Skip to comments.Healthier School Lunches Causing Headaches for Districts
Posted on 08/04/2012 4:46:55 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
New federal demands for healthier school lunches are causing a summer scramble for Long Island school districts to meet the new demands.
The real impact will likely be felt during the first weeks of school in September, when many kids begin to notice smaller portions of meat and increased portions of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Across the region, and the nation, districts are struggling with both the need to match new guidelines and to communicate the changes to parents and students.
Districts are having to respond to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, championed by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making the first major changes in school meal requirements in 15 years which, the government says, reflects the latest nutrition science and the circumstances of Americas schools.
The new federal guidelines require most schools to "increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat- free and low-fat fluid milk in school meals; reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat and trans fat in meals; and meet the nutrition needs of school children within their calorie requirements," according to the program's summary.
On the surface, the concept makes sense, but the changes are detailed and complicated.
For example, the new rules dictate the kinds of specific vegetables that must be provided, breaking down the components into items such as "red" and "dark green" vegetables. The rules generally lower the weight of the minimum daily requirements for meat in the lower grades.
And gone are the small packages of whole milk; now milk must be 1 percent or nonfat. Those tasty chocolate milk packages are history.
Long Island school nutrition directors are attending a seminar this week on how districts and their contracted food providers can meet the requirements, school officials said.
"Students will definitely notice a difference," said Holly Von Seggern, vice president of marketing for Whitsons Culinary Group of Islandia, which serves about 20 school districts across Long Island.
Whitsons has been preparing for the changes for almost two years and providing a range of new options for its districts to get kids used to the changes, Von Seggern said. They've even recommended that parents offer whole grains and more fruits and bean dishes during the summer to prepare kids for the changes.
In September, a school lunch plate will look different, she said. "They will notice a smaller burger and more vegetables," she said. The buns will be smaller, the portions different.
Earlier this month, thousands of food service workers and nutrition experts from around the country gathered in Denver at the annual conference of the School Nutrition Association, where the new standards were a big topic of conversation, according to a July 11 New York Times story.
The USDAs report said the meal program changes are based on recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. It claims they are expected to enhance the diet and health of school children, and "help mitigate the childhood obesity trend," according to the federal report.
Local districts were expected to comply with the changes by July 1. The impact, however, is likely to be heard during the opening weeks of school, when kids and parents begin complaining about smaller portions.
Some school leaders said they expect some children and, in turn, their parents, will find the portions insufficient for hungry teenagers. And while some school officials expect to hear complaints, they are plan to mail out information in advance to explain the changes and tell parents and students can do.
One option, as always, will be to pack your own lunch. The federal government has no say on brown bagging it.
Nanny State PING!
Low-fat or fat-free milk contains sugar. THAT is not healthier, IMO.
Ya know, I was not born into a country where the government in Washington could dictate what a kid in Arizona ate for lunch. Where the hell did we go wrong?
“One option, as always, will be to pack your own lunch. The federal government has no say on brown bagging it.”
Aren’t state gov’t food nazis and school districts now taking kids’ home-packed lunches away and making them eat their USDA-mandated ‘healthy’ crap?
Non-fat milk is basically sugar water some some extra vitamins and protein. I don’t know what they’ve got against milk fat.
This whole thing just seems like a doubling down on the high carb, low protein, low fat federal food pyramid scheme that’s been making Americans unhealthy and overweight for the last 30 years. It’s doubling down on failure.
If it were up to me, school kids would be fed a Southern soul food diet. Lots of high quality animal fats and protein along with plenty of vegetables.
Just wait until the first kid gets suspended from school for smuggling a contraband packet of salt, chips or Oreos into the lunchroom.
My child attends a school that has been feeding the students this way and she is always ravenous when I pick her up. We always have to go to Panera or Noodles because the food at her school is unappetizing and there is not enough stuff for kids her age. The food is perfect for some flaky new ager however. Now I know some of the more cruel of you parents might say things like “Kids will eat whatever is put before them and they should be grateful and they better like it” and so on and so forth, but this is not a concentration camp. Kids in abusive homes will eat out of the trash cans of others, but that does not make it right or good. I pay good money for her education and I expect them to be offered appealing and delightful and filling and nutritious food she enjoys. Even our pediatrician says chocolate milk, pudding for girls to get calcium is fine. Red meat for iron. They need some oils and fats for healthy skin and hair as well as brain development. BTW, she does not have an ounce of fat on her and plays sports
Mmmm.....I’m coming to your place for dinner!
But if Obama gets a second term, he'll have more "flexibility".
And, you can be sure these school districts will make sure more kids get on the Federal School Lunch program.
Not only getting on the school lunch program means more money for cafeteria food...it is more money for everything else school-related. Many federal government programs for school districts are based on how many kids are signed up for school lunch program
Local public schools couldn’t say no to federal money? Last I had heard 7 to 10% of their total funding comes from the Federal government.
It seems to give the Feds 100% control if they so choose.
Check the school garbages - you’ll see where the fruit, vegetables and beans end up. I am for children eating fruits and vegetables - however the quality will suffer (especially the fruit) because of having to bulk purchase. We all know the scenario - a still green banana that has no flavor because it is not ripe yet - the pulpy apple that has been in cold storage too long, etc. All fodder for the garbage can - the schools could sponsor a pig raising agricultural class so the leftovers aren’t just wasted.
And what do the greenie/enviro nazis have against milk? Because it is an animal protein and they’re on a wierd vegan kick?
The nanny food state is pathetic and the logic behind their dictates is bizarre as well.
Thanks for the article!
Local public schools couldnt say no to federal money?
Money not spent on lunches goes into the salaries/union dues/political pocket cycle. So, no. They cant say no to putting money back in the Democratic coffers. The good of the CHHHIIILDRREN have nothing to do with it.
Yeah, THAT'LL last. /sarc>
It’s amazing that we survived school back in the day. I especially liked the Chocolate milks that were offered. I didn’t have one everyday....my parents could not afford to allow us that luxury daily....however we did get good lunches provided by my parents. It is a shame that kids can’t even drink a chocolate milk anymore even as a special treat occasionally. I am so glad that I am not a child. My kids are provided lunches by my wife and myself and they seem happy enough. Kids today are ripped of big time!!!!!
Same for "Special Education" - districts can raise taxes based on number of students so identified. So guess what? More and more students are being identified. Voila!, more money.
The calorie count for kids will be as follows:
* Grades kindergarten through fifth: 550-650 calories
* Grades sixth through eighth: 600-700 calories
* Grades ninth through 12th: 750-850 calories
The above calorie counts do not mean that kids cannot eat more, but if they want more, they will have to pay more at the food line as it will be outside their regular lunch-tray option. Kids who want to eat more will have to pay for the items a la carte and it will not be covered under the reimbursable lunches back to the school.
Public schools push extremely hard to get parents enrolled in reduced price and free lunch programs. They get more money from the federal government.
This is where LBJ’s “Great Society” Leftism got us.
When the gubment gets involved in being the FATHER in the family it’s all downhill. Look at the inner cities....First it was housing, then food stamps, then medical, then child care, theb Obama phone...even free taxi rides in some places. Oh, and now most unmarried idiot women churning out bastards are onto the scheme of getting the kids declared “special needs” by the local corrupt doctor who is in on the scams...to get another check from SSI.
Obama and his beard Michelle are the end game. Now they are micromanaging what the gvt serves at the feeding stations. And this is what most schools have turned into: feeding stations. How many schools now provide breakfast and lunch WHEN THE SCHOOL IS NOT IN SESSION, like in the summer? MANY OF THEM. Now the new squealing demand: The kids must be provided DINNER because the parents don’t feed them that at home.
We are doomed if this crew gets back in in November. I never was a huge Romney fan....but I don’t think he wants to destroy our country. I’m certain that Obama and Co. do.
Remember: It’s for the CHID-REN! The mean old Conservatives want the chid-ren to starve.
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