The Illinois Center for Soy Foods at the University of Illinois, together with the Illinois Soybean Checkoff Board and Archer Daniels Midland have launched a pilot program to demonstrate the benefits of including soy in the state's school lunch programs. One or two schools in each of the selected districts—Ford Heights in the South Chicago area, Pekin, Champaign, Decatur and Murphysboro—will participate by serving soy alternatives as part of their menus.
The project will involve enhancing some of the more expensive items on the schools menu, thereby also helping to reduce overall costs for running the lunch programs. A major focus of the pilot program will be to demonstrate consumer acceptability of soy and soy-enhanced foods and show how they can be easily incorporated into the school lunch programs.
"Many of these foods will be popular entrees in which soy will be used to replace some or all of the meat," says Barbara Klein, co-director of the Illinois Soy Foods Center and emeritus professor in the Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition at Illinois.
As part of the consumer acceptance study, those items will replace the usual entree and be compared to the acceptability of the standard menu item.The plan is to work with children, teach-ers, and members of the local Parent-Teachers Association to provide educational information about nutrition, food preparation, and how to incorporate soy into a healthy lifestyle.