ATLANTA - At the School Nutrition Association's national conference in Atlanta earlier this month, the food was everywhere. So were the people who choose what our children will eat when the new school year begins.
"So they want to spend their time socializing," says Karen Hallford, Assistant Director of Gwinnett County's School Nutrition Program. "So if you can give them something to eat in a healthy, easy way, they're much more apt to eat with us."
Linette Dodson, Director of School Nutrition for Carrollton City Schools, walk a fine line, balancing teenage taste buds with strict federal nutritional requirements.
"It's a culinary challenge if you will," says Dodson.
Because for the last five years, schools receiving federal funding for meals have been under pressure to make school lunches healthier, by cutting calories, salt and fat, and pushing foods like whole grains.
Now Trump Administration is easing those requirements, to give schools more nutritional leeway.
But Hallford doesn't see this as a rollback of the Obama-era standards.
"So what we have here lately are some reliabilities," Hallford explains. "So, some simple flexibility to give us a little bit of wiggle room to do some of the things we need to do."
And what on the menu most needs "wiggling?"
"We're in the South," Hallford says. "So biscuits are very important to our kids. So, with the flexibility, our biscuit will be more of a homestyle Southern. So, the flexibility around whole grains allows us to do that."
But Dodson says Carrollton will stick with the changes the system has made in the last few years.
"In all actuality, we're just going to hold to the standards that have been implemented," she says.
Both Hallford and Dodson say they're excited about the challenges ahead. And both women remain committed to serving up foods students will enjoy.
"And our whole message is that school food is good food," says Dodson.