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.
get the feds out of our schools!!!!
Parents will need to push public schools to say no to federal money sent to subsidize reduced and free school lunches.
I don’t see this happening.
so a rail thin kid who may need more fats in his diet for a
still developing brain will be denied it by the gov’t. okay.
the good news is that this kind of crap touches EVERYONE and
spreads the misery. so. i’m glad they’re attaching the
obammas name to it.
in the privacy of the voting booth, who knows. people vote on what directly affects them. so keep the insults and attacks on this country coming, dems.
They will be hungry and unproductive in school and then go home and pig out.
Before and after lunch chart from the USDA. Image is too big to post on page.
I think the bean dishes could evolve into a very interesting protest item. Say a can of Pork & Beans before school and 3rd or 4th period would resemble the campfire scene from Blazing Saddles. The kids could just say "Hey, we are just eating what you suggested".
OK, I will admit I have a double espresso driven evil streak going this morning.
Look for kids going to the nearest Burger King, McDonalds, or pizza joint as soon as the school bell rings to make up for what they didn’t get during lunch. If I were an owner of any of those places, I’d be thrilled with the new government- mandated federal lunch program.
There really isn’t that much milk fat in regular milk. And children need it to adequately digest fat-soluble nutrients in the food they eat.
I like your reference to Southern soul food. Someone once told me that southern cooking was mostly fat, sugar, and booze. I know it isn’t true today, but some of the older recipes I have from a half-century ago certainly read that way!
They better increase the budget for waste removal. That is where a lot of the “healthy” foods go now. It will just get worse.
When weight begins to drop because kids aren’t getting enough calories, will anyone... oh, never mind. You can never convince a liberal bully they are wrong about anything. Even when it’s right in their face.
That’s just it though, kids need more carbs and proteins because they are (supposed to be) playing off the calories.
If you ask me, the stupid government should stop focusing on FOOD and start focusing on EXERCISE.
They complain about kids not ‘moving’ and yet they take out recess, make physical education about running laps instead of games that they might get hurt in (don’t you dare play dodgeball or red rover!) etc...
70 years ago, folks ate several eggs, bacon, biscuits and potatoes or grits for breakfast but it was ok because they worked it off through the day.
On Wednesday, first lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to unveil healthier new national lunch standards, which Chicago Public Schools pre-emptively adopted during the 2010-11 school year. That year, CPS incorporated more whole grains into lunchroom menus, removed daily nachos, started offering a different vegetable every day and introduced more healthful new foods.
Last year the Tribune reported that only about 70 percent of CPS students were taking lunch after the meals were overhauled even though 86 percent of students qualified for free or reduced-price meals. The lunchroom survey suggests the percentage of students who actually eat the food could be even lower only 42 percent of the workers “felt the students were eating the new food.”
“A lot of students say they won’t eat it because it’s just not appetizing,” said Linda Green, who has worked in CPS food service for 22 years. “For instance, we can’t even put salt or any flavoring on the vegetables.”
Workers attribute increased school food waste to flavor issues as well as a largely one-menu-fits-all approach to a diverse district of 409,000 students. They also say more education is key when introducing new foods.
Asked for an example, one self-described lunch lady said, “Hummus!”
“It was waste because the children were unfamiliar with it, and as a staff member I couldn’t even inform the children about what nutritional value it holds because, again, I wasn’t educated on the values of the different foods,” said the worker, who asked to remain anonymous because she feared backlash from administrators.
School health advocates and the lunch workers agree that students need more freshly cooked and unprocessed foods. But CPS prohibits the building of working kitchens in elementary schools, opting instead to build reheating kitchens.
Federal demands forced feeding to kids in school.How big gov of them.
Southern soul food is rural poverty food, which is to say it features staples like corn meal, flour, rice and beans, cheap cuts of meat, and basic garden type vegetables. Also it uses animal fats like lard and butter. It’s actually very healthy if you tone down the carbs (biscuits, cornbread) and play up the meats and veggies.
LOL! Sounds exactly like my diet except for the wheat flour, which I cannot eat, and cornmeal, which I avoid due to GM factors.
Now, if only I can convince my nephew to stop eating fried mozzarella cheese and hot dogs!
You give up FREEDOM when you vote in the lesser of 2 evils...they just do it slower.
I agree with you. This diet will put even more weight on the kids who actually eat the lunches.
This is going to increase the waste of food because many kids aren’t going to touch this stuff.
Moms all over thecountry had better be prepared for increased demands for after school snacks. Their kidsare going to arrive home starving.
One more thing I haven’t seen mentioned. Every school system had better schedule math, scinece etc. in the morning, because after this new high carb lunch, half the school with be asleep from carb overload in the afternoon.
Wasted food and sleeping kids, all thanks to Michelle Obama, failed attorney turned failed dietician.
That's a good point.
Any bets on the percentage increase of school lunches that get tossed into the trash receptacle?
Kids are going to eat what kids like and toss out all those red and dark green veggies. More healthy meals, more hungry kids.
Neither the before or after looks appetizing to me. Heck when I went to school we had a full cafeteria and the lunch ladies who actually cooked all morning put out great meals.