Big changes in Lakota school lunches as new school year begins | Health
WEST CHESTER, OH (FOX19) - When Lakota district students head back to class on Thursday there will be some noticable differences in school lunch.
Here is a news release from the Lakota District regarding school lunch changes:
To comply with new federal standards, the Lakota Local School District has updated its recipes and menus to make breakfast and lunch even more nutritional.
“These are the most substantial meal changes in years for Lakota and other school districts,” said Chris Burkhardt, Lakota’s Director of Child Nutrition. “We think students will be happy with their new choices, and parents will be comfortable knowing their kids will be eating well-balanced meals.”
Though many popular items will remain on the school menus, some ingredients have been replaced with healthier ones. For instance, instead of being served on white, enriched flour buns, hamburgers will be served on whole grain buns.
Preparation methods also are changing. In many instances, instead of being fried, food will be baked or grilled, including sweet potato French fries and grilled chicken breasts.
Students might not even notice many of the changes. Examples include French toast sticks made with whole grain bread, instead of enriched white bread; sausage patties and hot dogs made with turkey, instead of pork; and mini pancakes, made with whole grain flour.
“School meals are a huge convenience for busy parents who might not have time to put together a well-balanced meal for their kids to take to school,” Burkhardt said. “Because of the planning we put into meal preparation, parents can be sure their child will get a nutritious meal at school for a great price.”
At the elementary level, meals will continue to cost $2. At the secondary level, meals will still be $2.25.
The school district encourages parents to talk to their children about the changes. If students know about the changes before walking into the cafeteria, it’s more likely they’ll select the new, healthier items.
Studies also show that when students are given choices about what to eat, it’s more likely they’ll pick a healthier option. So all Lakota schools will have apples, oranges, bananas and pears available, in addition to daily fruit specials, such as cinnamon apples and strawberry banana applesauce.
At the elementary level, students can choose between the daily meal specials and prepackaged meals called “funnables,” which include items such as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, fruit cup, mini carrots with dressing or bread sticks, pepperoni, cheese, marinara sauce, fresh fruit, mini carrots and ranch dressing. All come with a choice of flavored milk or white milk, including fat free or one percent milk.
At the secondary level, 35 entrée items are available, though not every day. In addition, students can design their own taco, burritos or taco salad. Sandwiches and wraps can be made to order. The secondary schools also offer pizza and various types of chicken sandwiches as well as regular burgers, turkey burgers and veggie burgers.
The most noticeable changes might be in vegetables. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed five vegetable groups: dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, starchy and other. School districts have to offer one or more vegetables from each group each week. To qualify for the published meal prices, students must take a fruit or vegetable with each meal. Otherwise, they will be charged the ala carte prices, which are considerably higher.
At Lakota, traditional salad has been replaced with romaine lettuce to satisfy the dark green vegetable requirement. Sweet potatoes have been added for the red/orange requirement. Hummus and refried beans will be new to fulfill the beans and peas group. Green beans, cauliflower and mixed vegetables will fall under the “other” category.
The changes are driven by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which directed the USDA to set new nutrition standards for all food served in schools, partly to combat childhood obesity. Many school districts, including Lakota, were making nutrition improvements even before the federal government ordered the changes.
Research has shown that students who eat school meals perform their best academically. They also have less absenteeism and fewer trips to the school nurse.
The new federal standards school districts must follow include:
- Meals that offer the right balance of fruits, vegetables, milk, grains and protein.
- Larger servings of fruits and vegetables.
- A greater variety of vegetables.
- Strict calorie limits based on grade levels.
- Sodium levels that are gradually reduced over several years.
- Only whole grains within two years.
- Less saturated fats and no added trans-fat.
The new menus, information about free or reduced-price school meals, and how parents can pay by credit card for their children’s meals can be found here: http://www.lakotaonline.com/departments.cfm?subpage=25