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Wheeling Middle Students Voice Opinions On Cafeteria Food

Photo by Joselyn King Brady Bowie, an eighth grade student at Wheeling Middle School, samples a whole-grain Dutch waffle — similar to a funnel cake — that soon could be available for lunch in Ohio County’s middle schools.

WHEELING — Wheeling Middle School students said they wanted a say in what food was being served in the cafeteria, and Tuesday they got to sample some possible new food items coming their way.

The same students who met with Superintendent Kim Miller in early November during a superintendent forum visit were invited to the school’s cafeteria Tuesday to try some food items the school district might purchase to serve.

There were overwhelming thumbs up for two new offerings — sweet and sour and buffalo “boom boom” dips on chicken tenders, while a cinnamon stuffed pretzel also drew praise as a potential breakfast item in the cafeteria.

But what really impressed the students were whole grain Dutch waffles. They are similar to a popular carnival food, but don’t call them “funnel cakes,” explained Renee Griffin, child nutrition director for Ohio County Schools.

U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines prohibit the use of the word “cake” for a breakfast food because it sounds unhealthy, but the product is healthy and meets federal nutrition standards, she said.

Not everything sampled was a hit with the youths. They didn’t approve of the apple churro product provided to them.

“No,” said Jalayiah Broomes, a sixth grade student, after tasting the churro.

The subject of cafeteria food was an important one to the students when they met with Miller, who also was present for the tasting on Tuesday. The taste testing of cafeteria food items by students has become a staple in Ohio County Schools, but the practice was abandoned during the COVID era, Griffin said.

The students asked Miller if the taste testings could resume, and they indicated it was important to them.

“They want to have a say in things,” Griffin said of the students. “This is a way for them to take ownership and tell us what they like and don’t like about the food.”

Eighth grade student Brady Bowie asked if calzones could be offered to the students more often. Griffin explained that while popular, both pizza and calzones have been hard to obtain by the school district amid supply chain problems resulting from the pandemic.

Ohio County Schools purchases food items from the Core Group in Pittsburgh, and these are heated and served on site at schools following federal child nutrition guidelines, she said.

Eighth grade student Karma Trouble Hughes enjoyed the new dips that were being served.

“It is better than the stuff that is here … definitely,” he said.


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