How is a Farm to School Menu Designed?

Kohala Students

(Caption:  Kohala Students give the shaka to their fresh, scratch-cooked chicken stir-fry.)


How are menu items selected at the Kohala Complex? The cafeteria staff put in a lot of work and research to develop a menu that students would enjoy.  To start, two rounds of surveys were conducted in December and February to understand what students like to eat, don’t eat, or would like to eat in the cafeteria.

After the survey, the staff whipped up food to conduct taste tests with the students. The recipes were then adjusted based on student feedback.  As a result, the kids have given the following menu items the shaka:  beef laulau with poi and lomi tomatoes, orange chicken, kalua pork and cabbage, Portuguese sausage and rice, pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, and quesadillas. Many students have requested yogurt parfaits, smoothies, and pancakes as additions to the breakfast menu.

Along with conducting taste tests with students, the team also considered local food availability, food prep time and the budget when piecing together the menu.

One of the main goals of the Hawaii Farm to School Initiative is to serve healthy, fresh, wholesome meals to students. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, students’ health is linked to their academic achievement.  Student participation in the USDA School Breakfast Program is associated with higher grades, while skipping breakfast is associated with decreased cognitive performance.  Lower academic achievement has been associated with low consumption of specific foods, such as fruit, vegetables, and dairy.