Local parents get a taste of school cafeteria food

For the first time, Arlington Public Schools held a cafeteria open house and invited parents and kids to taste-test breakfast and lunch items. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
For the first time, Arlington Public Schools held a cafeteria open house, and invited parents and kids to taste-test breakfast and lunch items. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The samples included banana bread, catfish and regular and spicy chicken sandwiches. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The samples included banana bread, catfish, and regular and spicy chicken sandwiches. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Moms, dads and kids also got to try four different kinds of pizza and were asked to vote for their favorite. The winner will be served in every Arlington school through the end of the school year. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Moms, dads and kids also got to try four different kinds of pizza and were asked to vote for their favorite. The winner will be served in every Arlington school through the end of the school year. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Here's what the different pizza samples looked like. Sample B was popular with taste-testers we talked to. Sample D was like garlic bread. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Here’s what the different pizza samples looked like. Sample B was popular with the taste-testers we talked to. Sample D was like garlic bread. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Clockwise from upper left: catfish, a chicken sandwich, sweet potato tots and banana bread. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Clockwise from upper left: catfish, a chicken sandwich, sweet potato tots and banana bread. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
This is an example of the fruit and vegetable bars many Arlington schools offer students. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
This is an example of the fruit and vegetable bars that many Arlington schools offer students. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
These are grab-and-go breakfasts that late-arriving students are allowed to take to their first class of the day. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
These are grab-and-go breakfasts that late-arriving students are allowed to take to their first class of the day. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
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For the first time, Arlington Public Schools held a cafeteria open house and invited parents and kids to taste-test breakfast and lunch items. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The samples included banana bread, catfish and regular and spicy chicken sandwiches. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Moms, dads and kids also got to try four different kinds of pizza and were asked to vote for their favorite. The winner will be served in every Arlington school through the end of the school year. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Here's what the different pizza samples looked like. Sample B was popular with taste-testers we talked to. Sample D was like garlic bread. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Clockwise from upper left: catfish, a chicken sandwich, sweet potato tots and banana bread. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
This is an example of the fruit and vegetable bars many Arlington schools offer students. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
These are grab-and-go breakfasts that late-arriving students are allowed to take to their first class of the day. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

WASHINGTON — For the first time ever, Arlington Public Schools held an open house to show off what school lunches are like.

“We’re having parents come in and see what a typical day is like in the school cafeteria,” Food Nutrition Services Director Amy Maclosky told WTOP at the event at Washington-Lee High School.

The samples included catfish, smoothies, chicken sandwiches, spaghetti sauce, sweet potato tots and banana bread. Students were invited, too.

“I tried the smoothie.  I think it was raspberry, and it was really, really good,” said sixth-grader Kayla Matlack.

Rachel Cotton,  a junior, was also a student taste-tester. She said she liked the pizza.

“I feel like it’s more cheesy compared to other pizza we had in the past,” Rachel  said. ” It’s not as cardboard-y, and it’s good.  The catfish is really good.”

Lucas Keith, a sixth grader,  said he liked the spicy chicken sandwich. Other students found it hard to pick a favorite.

“A lot of the foods here are really, really, really good,” gushed sixth-grader Sibeal Zanol.

Taste-testers sampled four kinds of pizza and were asked to vote for their favorite. The winner would be served in all Arlington schools for the rest of the year.

“We’re just trying to find the right combination of crust and sauce that kids like,” Maclosky said.

Parents at the event seemed pleased.

“To see the options the kids have, I’m very impressed because I never knew,” said Cynthia Matlack, who called the spaghetti sauce “delicious.”

Douglas Keith sampled a chicken sandwich and said it was “pretty decent.”

“Would I be OK with my kids having this? Absolutely,” he said.

The schools showed off a new menu website that, among other things, can help parents of  allergy sufferers figure out what’s safe to eat.

Arlington Public Schools also has a Farm-to-School program that is in its third year. Local farmers come to schools on Mondays and bring free, in-season foods for kids to try.

Maclosky says kids love it.

“We always tell parents we have kids who come and they want four and five servings of salads, or they’re on their fifth apple and everybody always laughs, ‘no that can’t be true.’ But they do.  They really enjoy it.”

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