MONTICELLO — With cafeteria food costs going up and lunch sales taking a 10 percent drop so far this school year, the Monticello School District made changes to its school menus this week.
New federal regulations mandating healthier foods have not caught on with student consumers, so the district conducted a survey in December to see what was keeping kids from buying lunches — and what would make them buy more.
The short answer? Serve more chicken.
Chicken-based items were the favorites in three of the five district lunchrooms, and placed second in the other two.
On the other end of the scale, foods that earned the "Yuck!" ranking most were macaroni and cheese with meatballs, beef and bean burrito, stromboli, taco burger and taco soup.
Superintendent Vic Zimmerman said promoting healthy foods could result in a $100,000 deficit in the food service line item for this fiscal year.
"The idea of the new nutritional requirements is to introduce more healthy foods to kids. I would say that is probably a good idea, but on the other hand this isn't a great time to put more budget issues onto schools," said Zimmerman.
The major change is adding a second entree choice on elementary and middle school menus on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Since the high school already has student choice through an a la carte line, its menu will not change.