SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico Public Education Department has put together a food quality survey to determine what students think about the 40 million breakfasts and 56 million lunches served in state school cafeterias each year. The online survey will run through May and takes only five minutes to complete.
According to a press release from NMPED, fliers will be sent home in English and Spanish asking family members for their help in administering the survey to younger students. “School meals have come a long way in the last decade with more locally sourced, fresh food and real care about meeting nutrition standards. Now we’re asking students to give us some feedback on what they like or don’t so we can continue improving,” said Michael Chavez, director of the NMPED’s School Success and Wellness Bureau in a statement.
NMPED officials are asking parents, grandparents, and other guardians who may remember their own school meals not to influence how students feel about what they’re being served as they want to get an accurate indication of how today’s children feel about the freshness, taste, and nutritional value of their meals.
NMPED reports that nearly every day, about 31 million children receive low-cost or free lunches through the National School Lunch Program which is a federally assisted meal program that operates in over 100,000 public and nonprofit private schools and residential childcare institutions.
The press release states that the program serves 4.9 billion lunches annually and schools are required to meet strict requirements for calories, protein, fat, fiber, and vitamins for about $1.30 per meal which must also cover ingredients, labor and additional overhead costs. As schools made the switch to remote learning during the pandemic, school nutritition programs continued to distribute meals for grab-and-go pickup or direct delivery.
New Mexico served over 32 million meals from March 2020 through February 2021. PED reports that while the federal government sets nutritional requirements for school meals, local school authorities decide which specific foods to serve and how to prepare them. The NMPED Quality of Food Survey is now available to complete online.