Gwinnett County’s school menu seeks to appeal to district’s global population

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 12:15 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2022 at 12:32 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - When Georgia’s largest school district, Gwinnett County Public Schools, begins its new school year on Wednesday, students can expect some globally inspired tweaks to the district’s cafeteria menu.

A CBS46 crew stopped by the new Seckinger High School near Buford Tuesday as cafeteria workers got some last-minute tips from executive Chef Rachel Petraglia, the culinary coordinator for the Gwinnett County School District.

“We’re always asking people, ‘If you don’t see something on the menu, reach out, let us know,’ and the Muslim community did just that,” said Petraglia.

She said Muslim families requested a halal burger that everyone can eat on Hamburger Day. Halal foods are permitted to be consumed under Islamic dietary guidelines because of the slaughtering and harvesting methods used.

“We found an amazing Halal-certified burger, and it is steak. It’s grilled. It’s a really premium product,” said Petraglia.

A favorite at many schools, chicken and waffles, is back on the menu this year but with a twist. Students now have a vegetarian option for their nuggets.

“We get a lot of requests for vegetarian options outside of cheese pizza,” said Karen Hallford, a registered dietitian who’s the director of school nutrition for the district. “We have a pinwheel that we’re super excited about. It’s a whole grain dough filled with spinach, broccoli, and cheese.”

Indeed, school lunches have come a long way.

“Really, the goal is to have lots of options on the menu,” she said. Adding, “so any student who’s walking down our serving lines can sort of pick and choose based on likes and dislikes and perhaps some special dietary needs that they have.”