Nevada governor calls for more appealing school lunches

CARSON CITY — Cafeteria lunches have been the butt of jokes for generations of schoolchildren. Mystery meat, chef’s surprise and cardboard often come to mind.

Jokes aside, it’s a conundrum Gov. Brian Sandoval contemplates seriously. Why can’t school lunches taste better?

Sandoval raised the issue Tuesday as the state Board of Examiners approved nine contracts between the Nevada Department of Agriculture and various vendors worth $16.7 million to provide food for school breakfast and lunch programs. Funding comes from the federal government.

The Republican governor bemoaned that cafeteria lunches haven’t evolved beyond “chicken nuggets” in decades. He said he hears the complaints in his own household from his 12-year-old daughter and her friends.

None of them like to eat in the cafeteria, he said. And when he visits schools, Sandoval said, the wasted food he sees in the trash breaks his heart.

Sandoval said he’d like to see students participate in food testing programs so schools get a better sense of what kids will eat.

It’s not the first time Sandoval has inquired about the tastiness of institutional food. In December 2014, the Nevada Supreme Court ordered the state health officer to report on the nutritional value of food served in state prisons.

In a status report presented during a later meeting of the state Board of Prison Commissioners, Sandoval asked, “But does it taste good?”

He noted nutritious food has no benefit if people won’t eat it.

Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3821. Follow @SandraChereb on Twitter.

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