After several years of testing, school foodservice supplier Sodexo is switching from beef burgers sold to schools to a meat-and-mushroom blend burger.
 
The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Mushroom Council has worked with Sodexo on the introduction of the blended burger for several years, according to a news release.
 
The change supports better nutrition for students in more than 250 school districts that Sodexo serves, according to the company.
 
“Recent studies tell us that kids are taking more fresh fruits and vegetable at school meals, but not necessarily eating them,” Lisa Feldman, director of culinary services for Sodexo Culinary Solutions, said in the release.
 
The company is not only working to increase the number of fresh produce items students take and eat during lunch, but also looking for ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into other items on the menu.
 
With an estimated 7 million monthly purchases at Sodexo cafeterias, the company estimates the blended burger will result in 250 million fewer calories, 38 million fewer grams of  fat and 15 million grams of saturated fat, and a drop of 304 million milligrams of sodium in student meals each month.
 
Taste tests with students before the national rollout showed 85% of those polled preferred the blended burger over the beef burger, according to the release.
 
“We are extremely impressed with Sodexo’s commitment to serving their students healthier burgers while featuring produce at the center of the plate,” Bart Minor, president of the Mushroom Council, said in the release. “We look forward to seeing this momentum continue in the K-12 market.”
 
Sodexo and the Mushroom Council also have designed marketing material featuring the Eat Brighter! campaign developed by the Produce Marketing Association and Sesame Workshop, according to the release. Those materials developed for Sodexo elementary schools include posters and salad bar clings encouraging students to eat fruits and vegetables.
 
Other Sodexo segments are using the blended burger, according to the release. 
 
Northwestern Dining, part of Sodexo’s University segment, participated in the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project, a campaign challenging chefs across the country to blend mushrooms with ground meat, according to the release.