Something’s Cooking: Healthy and tasty meals at Meriden schools

Healthy and tasty meals at Meriden schools
Published: Aug. 20, 2022 at 8:24 AM EDT
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MERIDEN, CT (WFSB) - Meriden students go back to the classroom at the end of the month, but the district’s culinary staff is already working hard to make sure this semester’s menu is nutritious and delicious.

Pat Kearney’s laughter has been filling the cafeteria kitchen at Platt High School for decades.

“It’s a lot of hard work but I have a good team that makes it easy for me,” said Pat.

Pat’s passion has been a constant over the years, but the food she prepares has evolved over time.

Thanks to rising standards set by the USDA and city of Meriden, the meals are healthier and just as tasty.

“It is high quality it’s whole grain and some of the students here they’ll eat the buns and won’t even know its whole grains but they love what we serve them,” said Pat, the Kitchen Manager of the Meriden School District.

Susan Maffe is the school district’s Director of Food And Nutrition. She leads a team of four dieticians who painstakingly craft every meal.

“It’s certainly the most gratifying job that I’ve had in my career,” said Susan. “People just really love working here and helping kids and it’s been a great experience.”

Dietician Megan Jalbert shows us a few new meals including the orange chicken bowl, the breakfast for lunch option with pork free sausage, and a healthier spin on pasta with meatballs. Every bite makes a difference.

“It’s nice cause you’re helping so many families and kids all at once it’s very global and things like that I think that’s why I really enjoy K-12,” said Megan.

Even when you see brand name comfort food in Meriden cafeterias, keep in mind they are made specifically for schools and must fit under city and USDA guidelines, which means they must contain at least 51-percent whole grains.

“Even our Doritos are made differently than what you buy off the shelf,” Megan said. “They’re lower in sodium for example those are made with corn chips instead of tortillas.”