ATLANTA — School meals have changed over the years, and nowhere is that more evident than the lunchrooms of Gwinnett County.

Nutritionists and chefs are behind the menus that include gourmet hamburgers, pasta alfredo, and roasted beets.

“It’s all about bold flavors,” says Chef Rachel Petraglia.

Students have developed a more sophisticated palate, and Gwinnett’s School Nutrition Program has responded.

“They’re foodies themselves,” says Karen Hallford, Director of School Nutrition. “They’re following celebrity chefs. We’re a food service establishment just like anybody else and we have to work to earn our customers.”

New this year in Gwinnett lunchrooms are stuffed pasta shell, lemongrass thai bowl, and chopped salads. High schoolers will find one of three gourmet burgers waiting for them each Wednesday.

11Alive’s Jerry Carnes got a chance to sample several dishes, including a piminto cheese and fried green tomato burger.

Some items may or may not be a hit.

“Are kids going to like beets?” Carnes asked Petraglia.

“I don’t know,” says Petraglia “We say just ‘try it.’”

The beets are honey roasted and topped with mandarin orange.

Trying to please young taste buds means sticking to what’s tried and true, like tater tots. Of course, today’s tater tots are seasoned.

Students can find each week’s menu online or through a new smartphone app.

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