The Arlington Heights School District 25 offered students “nutrient-dense” lunches, which included black bean burgers and baked fish. Turns out kids just didn’t like them.

According to an article in The Chicago Tribune, Arlington Heights District 25 lost about $60,000 last year on the failed experiment. Coletta Hines-Newell, the district’s food service director, is disappointed that more children didn’t choose the fish and bean items. The article stated about 15 orders for fish were spread across seven elementary schools and two middle schools, and nearly all of the students who ordered fish would change their minds once they came to the lunch counter.

A nutrient-dense food is one that delivers a complete nutritional package and can be used to sustain life. Common examples of nutrient-dense foods are lean pork and beef, dairy products, fruits, vegetables and grains.

It seems that Mrs. Hines-Newell would be well-served to look more closely at the benefits of lean pork, lean beef and dairy products as logical, economical sources for nutrient-dense food that the students would actually enjoy.

With the emphasis on food miles and efficiency, I can’t help but wonder about the carbon footprint of the seafood purchased by the school district, since obviously the salmon didn’t come from the Chicago River.

It’s no surprise that the district has seen a decline in students eating school lunches in recent years, officials said, with only about 40 percent of students eating them. Some of the highly nutritious items remaining on the monthly menu include side dishes like kale salad and bok choy with garlic. Yum. 

Healthy, tasty, economical options are available, and our livestock and dairy industries must continue to reach the right people to make sure these products are being offered, not only in educational institutions but at home and in restaurants as well.