Duval County hosts family food night for students, parents

Event allows families to taste new food items from food partner Chartwells

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County Public Schools and its food service partner, Chartwells K12, hosted a family food night Wednesday for parents and students.

The free event went from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Mandarin High School on Greenland Road.

Parents and students were able to try some of the new cafeteria food being offered on Chartwells' menu.

Thanks to a new alternative to salt, a special spice has student going crazy over their delicious and healthier lunches.

Parents and students who spoke with News4Jax said they loved the great tasting food, especially the spices.

"I really, really, like it," eighth-grader Alanna Yates said. "I really don't want to bring school lunch, I just want to eat every day."

Stanton High School Junior Will Nowak said he was thrilled with the cool combinations created for schools.

"I usually have swim practice after school, so if I'm really hungry and I've already eaten my lunch that I've brought from school, I'll hop in the Chartwells line because it's that good," Nowak said.

Third-grader Joy Frisch was among those students setting the record straight on the reputation cafeteria food usually gets.

The 8-year-old said all of the new tastes for the school year, such as a turkey, ham and cheese pretzel sandwich, are amazing.

One of the winning flavors of the night was the special spice used in the new district menu items. It's a mixture of spice with no salt that can give even the most bland food a great taste.

Chartwells' Director of Culinary Operations Will Ratley hoped the new menu was a home run for parents and students.

"I'm hoping that the reaction will be a wow factor, for them to really see what we provide to the students on a daily basis," Ratley said.

As if the students being impressed wasn't enough, the parents were as well.

"We don't have to worry about preparing lunches the night before. It's a time saver," parent Kelly Nowak said. "And I was looking at the prices; they're pretty reasonable, so it's a win win."

Some of the other new food items on the district's new menu include peach and blueberry parfaits, build-your-own Asian bowls and some specialty salads.

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