Morning Sun
  • TROJAN TRIBUNE: USD 248 follows new nutritional guidelines

  • Under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids (HHFK) Act of 2010, USD 248 is adjusting its meal programs.

    HHFK is a part of the Let’s Move! Initiative established by first lady Michelle Obama to fight childhood obesity. The act institutes new dietary guidelines on school breakfasts and lunches in order to encourage proper nutrition.

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  • Under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids (HHFK) Act of 2010, USD 248 is adjusting its meal programs.
    HHFK is a part of the Let’s Move! Initiative established by first lady Michelle Obama to fight childhood obesity. The act institutes new dietary guidelines on school breakfasts and lunches in order to encourage proper nutrition.
    Requirements and Guidelines
    New guidelines include modified portion sizes regarding the amount of fruits and vegetables offered each day and a maximum amount of meat and grains that can be served per week. In addition, new restrictions regarding calorie, fat and sodium content have been enacted.
    Guidelines have also been set making the elementary school a subgroup of its own. Haderlein previously had the same guidelines as the middle school.
    The new fruit and vegetable requirements require elementary and middle school students to be served one-half cup of fruit and three-fourths cup of vegetables each day. High school students must be served one cup each of fruits and vegetables daily.
    In addition, a dark green vegetable, orange or red vegetable, and a bean or legume must each be served once a week.
    Another change is that middle and high school students are now required to take at least one-half cup of fruits or vegetables on their tray for the meal to be counted as a full meal.
    New meat and grain requirements have also influenced school menus. Students in the elementary school are allowed 8-9 ounces of grain each week and 8-10 ounces of meat or meat alternatives each week.
    In the middle school, regulations allow students 8-10 ounces of grain per week and 9-10 ounces of meat or meat alternatives each week.
    High school students are allowed 10-12 ounces of grain and meat or meat alternatives per week.
    Additionally, 50 percent of all grain served to students must be whole grain.
    Guidelines on calorie, fat and sodium content in food have also been restricted. At the elementary school, lunches are allowed 550-650 calories and must contain less than 1,230 mg of sodium.
    The middle school is allowed 600-700 calories per lunch with less than 1,360 mg of sodium, and the high school is allowed 750-850 calories per meal with less than 1,420 mg of sodium.
    At all grade levels, only 10 percent of the meal’s total calories can come from saturated fat with no trans fat in any of the food.
    In addition to the regular meals, the a la carte offerings, which started as an alternative to the school lunch and are not government subsidized, are still slightly affected by the new regulations. In the past, drinks such as Gatorade and Crystal Lite were offered, but the choices have been restricted to include only water, milk and 100 percent juice.
    Page 2 of 3 - To help enforce the new policies, a “6-cent rule” provides 6 cents per meal to schools that follow the regulations. If a school is found noncompliant, they lose future payments and must repay any rewards they have received.
    USD 248 registered dietitian Mary Twarog said, “The 6-cent program became available Oct. 1, and we are in the process of completing the application. However, it creates a lot more paperwork that must be completed and is a long process.”
    Due to the new regulations Mrs. Twarog and her staff of 11 have had to adapt to several changes. Many of their recipes have been rewritten, eliminating fat, oil and butter, and all bread recipes have been adapted to use 50 percent whole-wheat flour.
    To further satisfy the new requirements, the lunch staff has begun serving fresh broccoli and carrots weekly as well as carefully watching the nutrition labels of their ingredients and purchased foods. In addition, the school district has raised lunch prices by 10 cents as required under the HHFK act.
    The guidelines are yet another change Mrs. Twarog has experienced over her 31 years of involvement with the evolving school nutrition program.
    “When I first started at USD 248, we only served lunch each day. Since then, our responsibilities have grown to include breakfasts and a la carte as well as sack lunches for athletics, refreshments for Renaissance activities, chili dinners for school events, and snacks for after-school programs,” said Mrs. Twarog.
    Student and Staff Reaction
    As a result of the changes, the staff has noticed many teachers and students eat the school lunch less often. In addition, many favorite meals, such as the pasta and breakfast bars, can no longer be served.
    Under the new guidelines, many students feel they are not receiving enough for lunch, citing the new limitations on grains and proteins.
    When asked about the changes, freshman Bailey Crapson said that he didn’t “feel full” after lunch, and freshman Garret Barnaby said, “I don’t understand why lunch costs more if we’re getting less food.”
    With regard to complaints about portion sizes, Mrs. Twarog said, “The new regulations focus on students filling up with more fruits and vegetables as compared to other foods. It is just going to take awhile for students and staff to relearn how to eat from what they are used to.”
    While many students have concerns about the new meals, others have found positive changes.
    “I like the variety of the side dishes,” said junior Kendra Samuels, while freshman Austin Horton thinks the salads are “great.”
    GHS science instructor Debra Brodbeck said, “I think any change that focuses on getting students to eat healthier is a good plan.”
    Others hold mixed opinions, such as GMS reading teacher Heidi Tucker, who said, “I like where the changes are trying to go, but I think they’re unrealistic in their current form.”
    Page 3 of 3 - Senior Taylor Evans held a similar sentiment, saying, “I think it is great that our school is trying to be healthier; however, when my hamburger bun only covers half of my hamburger, I feel like we have a problem.”
    Mrs. Twarog offered her own opinion regarding the new plan: “Getting students to eat healthy is good in theory, and I have no problem with that. However, I think it was done in the wrong way. Healthy choices should be offered to students, not required or forced upon them.”

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