Helping encourage students to choose new healthier options

by Robert Bruchak on November 18, 2016

Students eating lunch

The implementation of the Healthy – Hunger Free Kids Act has helped Salisbury students enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables more than ever.  Salisbury cafeterias have added new varieties of fresh salads and wraps that have become favorites for many students.  Under the Act’s guidelines, vegetable sub-groups had to be in place for the last six years.  To meet these guidelines, Salisbury cafeterias have added sweet potato fries and rice and beans as healthy and more desirable options (see this link below for vegetable subgroups).

School lunches must meet meal pattern and nutrition standards based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  The current meal pattern increases the availability of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in the school menu.  The meal pattern’s dietary specifications set specific calorie limits to ensure age-appropriate meals for grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12.  Other meal enhancements include gradual reductions in sodium.  While school lunches must meet Federal meal requirements, lunches are required to provide no more than 30 percent of calories from fat, and less than 10 percent from saturated fat.  Decisions about what specific foods to serve and how they are prepared are left up to local school districts.

Early in the implementation process, schools asked for flexibility to serve larger servings of grains and proteins within the overall calorie caps.  The USDA responded and added flexibility in this area.  The USDA is also phasing other requirements in over the next several years to ensure children receive and learn the importance of nutritious eating habits.

The whole grain regulations are working well.  When the regulations were first implemented, school districts had difficulty in obtaining adequate whole grain items.  Now food manufacturers and distributors have added a variety of whole grain products that are incorporated into the students’ favorite meals.

Happy Holiday from Salisbury Cafeterias!

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