The beginning of school year always brings a lot of changes — new classes and classrooms, school supplies and routines — but this year changes are also coming to school lunches.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 starts taking effect this year, raising the standards of school food quality for lunches, with school breakfast standards increasing down the line.
“Improving the nutrition of school meals is an important investment in the future of America’s children, ” Kevin Concannon, United States Department of Agriculture under secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, said in a press release. “We know that healthy food plays a vital role in strengthening a child’s body and mind and the healthier school meals will help to ensure our children can learn, grow, and reach their full potential. ”
Nationwide, schools will be bumping up fruit and vegetable offerings while also trying to cut down on saturated and trans fats and sodium.
In Havre Public Schools, Food Services Supervisor Debbie Otto said the kitchen in Havre High School that cooks lunch for all of Havre’s public schools will be offering more fruits and vegetables, including “more dark green, orange and red vegetables. ”
Even the cookies will be healthier. Food Services makes all their baked goods — dinner rolls, hamburger or hot dog buns, and cookies — in Havre High daily, and this year all of those different doughs will include 55 percent whole grain flour. The new recommendation, Otto said, is only 51 percent, but Havre schools want to stay ahead of the curve.
They already started only carrying 1 percent or skim milk last year, preceding another recommendation.
Box Elder Public Schools have already spent years preparing student lunches to these high standards, with emphasis on vegetables and whole grains, which provide more vitamins and protein than processed grains.
Box Elder’s Food Service Supervisor Kimberly Patacsil said its nice of the rest of the country to catch up to her Hi-Line school kitchen.
“We were the pilot school, ” Patacsil said. “We started it off and now everybody’s following suit. ”
While it will be most Havre students’ first time with these adjustments, Patacsil said the children in Box Elder have embraced them.
“They’re enjoying it. ”
The new public school meal standards:
• Ensure students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week;
• Increase offerings of whole grain-rich foods and low-fat milkor fat-free milk varieties;
• Limit calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size; and
• Reduce the amounts of saturated fats, trans fats and sodium.