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Concerns Arise Over New Federal Lunch Standards

Whitnall administrators are afraid the meal program's participation could drop and that there will be more waste. As a result, they are proposing a 5 cent hike per lunch.

Remember making your way through the high school cafeteria line, picking and choosing the lunch items you wanted?

Two scoops of mashed potatoes with plenty of gravy? No problem. Extra mayo on that chicken patty sandwich? Down the hatch. Some cut green beans or vegetable medley? Um, absolutely not, but I’ll take an extra brownie, please.

Those days, back before pizza was considered a vegetable, are long gone.

In January, first lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced new standards for school lunch that will be implemented in 2012-13.

Among the changes are:

  • all bread and bread products have to be whole grain
  • maximum calorie and sodium limits for meals
  • require that served foods contain no trans fats

Also, in an effort to tackle the country’s childhood obesity problem with the first major nutritional changes in 15 years, each student will be given a vegetable or fruit; in the past, they could choose not to take those items.

“We have to physically put this stuff on their tray?” board member Quin Brunette asked.

Yes, sir, but just because it ends up on their trey doesn't mean it will end up in their belly.

That concern — increased waste — and the possibility that the meal program's participation could drop off because of the new regulations has the Whitnall School Board considering an increase of $.05 per lunch for 2012-13.

Business manager Doug Johnson, who brought the concerns to the board Monday, recommended the board renew the district’s contract with Aviands, its food service manager since 2009-10.

“There’s some concern with how it will go over with the students,” Johnson said. “From everything I’ve seen, the (Aviands) program has delivered the return they’ve promised. I ate lunch there occasionally and I have not seen an excessive amount of waste. I think it’s pretty well received.

“But whether they’ll like whole wheat bread instead of Wonder bread remains to be seen.”

Johnson said there are even more changes mandated for the 2013-14 school year.

Dick August 17, 2012 at 08:52 PM
I am in the thick of things and I can tell you that although I believe the kids should be given choices especially for fruits and veggies, the truth of the matter is that they will not eat it if they really don't like it even if you do put it on their tray instead of letting them pick from a few choices of fruits and veggies as has been done the last few years at the elementary schools. And contrary to what is stated in the article... there is too much waste. I will say that it was an excellent idea to put ranch dressing on the cart for the kids veggies. Many more kids eat their carrots and even more eat their salad now that they have dressing. I wouldn't want my veggies w/o the dressing either.

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