Democracy has finally arrived in one of the least-expected places—the school cafeteria.

As part of a plan to update the Eastern Lebanon County School District’s (ELCO) menu selection, students voted this past Friday on a variety of interesting and flavorful food items that may be added next year.

Jenelle Himmelreich, Director of Food and Nutrition Services at ELCO Intermediate School, organized the first-time event. Drawing on 16 years of experience in the school food service industry, Himmelreich gathered local vendors together in one place for the students to sample side-by-side.

“We’re giving the kids a chance to vote and let us hear their opinion on what they like,” says Himmelreich.

KB Pizza Crust Company offers some slices to students. 22 vendors in all set up small stations for the students to snack at; many of the vendors are local and have previously worked with the district.

District students were brought in for sampling while vendors prepared food. The voting process consisted of bingo chips placed in bowls at vendors’ tables (the more chips, the more votes).

A wide selection of food was available: apple crisps, beef teriyaki, and French toast balls, to name a few, and all the food selections met the nutritional standards of the National School Lunch program. The event was also attended by Debbie Morrow of the Pennsylvania Education Department Division of Food and Nutrition.

Part of the fun is the inclusion of options like the “walking taco” at the station above. A walking taco is essentially a more-contained version of a taco in a tortilla chip bag, complete with fillings like beef, lettuce, and cheese.

Himmelreich plans on making the event a yearly occurrence. “It’s for the kids, so we want to keep listening to what they have to say.”

What do the kids have to say about the food this year? “Delicious!”

Josh Groh is a Cornwall native and writer who began reporting for LebTown in 2019. He continued to regularly contribute to LebTown while earning a degree in environmental science at Lebanon Valley College, graduating in 2021. Since then, he has lead conservation crews in Colorado and taken on additional...


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