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Changes ahead for school meals
Sherrie Streik serves students at Lake Havasu High School. New program standards have been introduced and more will come in the next school year.
Lisa Turner Selman
Posted: Saturday, January 18, 2014 12:01 am
By KELSEY RINGUETTE TODAY’S NEWS-HERALD | 0 comments
The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act sets regulations for school lunch programs and are meant to create healthy meal choices for students, and a few of those regulations would be changing for the next school year.
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and National School Breakfast Program (NSBP) are required by HHFKA to ensure meals have a certain amount of fruits, vegetables, grains and meat, without going over a set number of calories.
Kindergarten through the fifth grade cannot exceed 650 calories, sixth through eighth grade can’t exceed 700, and ninth through 12th grade can’t exceed 850. The menus at the Lake Havasu Unified School District were started with the HHFKA guidelines in October 2012 by the Arizona Department of Education, Health and Nutrition.
The kids have different items on their menu daily served within the regulations. Sometimes they could have chicken tenders, French fries, and green beans or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a fruit cup and a cookie. They just have to make sure that it doesn’t exceed the set number of calories, tastes good and stays within regulation.
“I think it’s good the food is healthier and I don’t think they even realize they are eating healthier,” said Carrie Bogdanovich the food service director with Aramark. “ I noticed fast food restaurants are also trying to make their food healthier too like adding apples and everything; healthy is the new trend.”
There have been small changes throughout the years and more coming up to update the menus to keep them healthy.
One of the small changes was with frozen fruit. Anne Taffe, a state liaison for Food Service at LHUSD, said that when HHFKA first came out, all frozen fruits were not allowed to have any sugar but this recently changed, allowing sugar as long as it didn’t exceed the maximum calories.
Another change is with grain regulations. The HHFKA used to require that half of grains offered to be whole-grain rich but next school year, all grains will be required to be whole-grain rich.
“The school district has known these new regulations were coming and had been slowly introducing whole grain items to get the students used to the flavor and texture of these items as to not reject the item,” Taffe said. “When this first went into effect, our district and many other school districts were having a very hard time purchasing product that was the correct size and weight so it could be incorporated into the menus.”
A big change will be happening for the next school year with the reduction of sodium. Right now, school lunches contain more than thousand milligrams of sodium and the target amount of sodium by the 2022-2023 school years is to be reduced to around 700 milligrams. Taffe said manufacturers are working on reformulating products to help schools achieve these future goals and they hope the products they will need will be available in the general marketplace besides school food service.
“Our local Aramark team has been busy working to keep ahead of the regulations as to provide a product that the students will enjoy and not end up in the trash,” said Taffe. “It’s not good nutrition if it’s not eaten.”
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