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Local parents get a taste of school cafeteria food

Arlington Public Schools gave parents a chance to taste cafeteria food and get a feel for what their kids eat on a daily basis.

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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