Whole-Grain Bread: Handling Student Acceptance

In School Nutrition’s January issue, writer Karly Kolaja, in “Get In the Dough,” dug deep into the challenges and opportunities of using whole grain-rich breads in school meal programs. Whenever you switch to a new bread product, there’s definitely going to be some adjustment, even if it’s slight. The students will notice a difference, and depending on their level of acceptance, may or may not like it. Either way, they’ll probably let you know. If, for some reason, you’ve served a product about which the students aren’t too keen, try your best to remain flexible and try new things. Kids not thrilled about your loaf bread? Try a wrap. Biscuits not going over so well? Think about switching them over for a roll. Eventually, you’ll find the one that works best.

When you actually make the move to introduce a new whole-wheat bread item, though, there are two schools of thought: make an announcement that there’s something new or make the switch silently. There are benefits to both, so you’ll have to use your judgment about what works best for you. But one way you can make the decision is by looking at your menu. Are you introducing the bread around a familiar sandwich? If so, you may be able to slide by without drawing much attention to it. “Many years back, long before it was required, we switched to whole-grain hamburger buns, and we didn’t say anything,” says Lawrence. “When we introduce something that’s supposed to be better for the kids, we just don’t draw attention to it.” When she made the switch, Lawrence says she only had one student who commented, and the feedback he gave was minimal—he thought they’d left them in the oven too long. 

However, if you think your switch to whole-wheat sandwiches is going to be very noticeable, you may want to get out ahead of it. Some of the resistance could potentially encounter might simply be due to unfamiliarity. “We do a lot of sampling and tasting,” says Cashman. “If the item’s not something they’re used to seeing and tasting, we’ll sample it out so they can get the chance to try something new. And oftentimes, what we find is that they’ll go, ‘wow, I want this.’ ” 

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