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USDA wants healthier school lunches, Havre Schools already ahead of the curve


September 4, 2013

Lindsay Brown

Eileen Viall takes inventory of the many healthier food options available in the Havre High School cafeteria. The school has removed its vending machine and changed its lunch offerings to adhere to national standards.

The return of hungry students to the schools of Havre have the cafeterias, newly accredited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in full swing.

Debbie Otto, the School Food Service supervisor at Havre High School, said the school completed a certification program last spring that allowed extra reimbursement money to cover the costs of adding healthier items on the menus. Every school in Montana applied for the certification, according to Otto.

“We bake 50 percent whole grain products every day and give more fresh fruits and vegetables,” Otto said. “It costs us a little bit more, but we were pretty much already up to standards when we applied. We are still able to make the quality food we always have.”

Kelly Whitaker runs the a la carte stand at Havre High School. She said that students have the option of going through the traditional lunch line, but if they don’t like what’s on the menu, they can come to her for a different selection.

“Students can use their ‘meal deal’ if they don’t want what the lunch line is serving,” Whitaker said. “They can also buy fruits and vegetables from me for 25 cents. We always have apples, oranges and bananas for the students.”

This morning, students were made sausage wraps for breakfast and then for lunch, will have tacos, according to the meal calendar on the Havre School District website. Thursday, lunch will be salisbury steak and Friday will be hot ham and cheese day. All these dishes are supplemented with sides of fruits and vegetables.

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program the Montana Office of Public Instruction uses is a program that is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which aims to create healthier school environments by increasing the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables elementary students are offered every day they are at school.

The food served to students who attend Montana schools are approved by the USDA which follows the MyPlate program of getting the students the nutrients they need. MyPlate, which has replaced the Food Pyramid, calls for fairly equal fourths of vegetables, fruits, grains, proteins and a side of dairy.

According to the Office of Public Instruction’s website, 80,000 students are served under the National School Lunch Program in Montana every day.

“We haven’t really seen anyone turning away from the lunch program,” Otto said.

Lunch at the high school is $2.55 for a student and $3.30 for adults. At the elementary schools, a lunch for students and adults alike is $2.30.


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