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Study Finds Soy Based Vegetarian Options Acceptable to Students

(March 22, 2010)—A study, recently published in the April 2010 issue of theJournal of School Health, found that middle school students readily accepted soy-based versions of popular school lunch items. In the study, soy-based versions of beef patties, chicken nuggets, chicken slices (served in a Caesar salad) and macaroni and cheese were substituted for the traditional menu items in five middle schools in the Montgomery County, Maryland school district.

Researchers compared the soy-based items with the traditional menu items by measuring student plate waste. The plate waste data showed that students consumed the same amount of the soy-based version of patties, nuggets, and pasta. However, students consumed less of the soy-based chicken slice than the regular chicken in the salad.

On average, the soy-based versions of the traditional menu items had fewer calories; less total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol; and more iron, fiber, and sodium. As school nutrition programs strive to meet Healthier US School guidelines and better serve vegetarian customers, soy-based versions of popular items can be a viable option.

If you are interested in learning more about this study and hear from other school food service directors that have incorporated soy products into their programs, be sure to register for the School Nutrition Foundation’s upcoming webinar “Soy Solutions for Schools – Offering Health-filled Options for Meal Planning.”

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