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Healthier Lunches Will be Part of Back to School This Year

New federal rules will require more fruits, vegetables, along with calorie limits.

As kids head back to school this week they’ll see more than just new books and teachers in their classrooms. For the first time, they’ll be seeing healthier hot lunches.

Under rules that take affect this year in federally-subsidized public school lunch programs, the federal government is for the first time imposing calorie and sodium limits on school lunch offerings and requiring schools to offer students more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

The new rules, established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, represent the first changes in public school lunch programs in 15 years. The calorie and sodium limits imposed under the new guidelines are based on a student’s age.

The changes are part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and are part of an overall effort to make federally subsidized school hot lunches healthier for kids and help reduce a growing obesity problem in the country.

The new requirements include:

  • Age-appropriate calorie limits and portion sizes;
  • Larger servings of vegetables and fruits (students must take at least one serving of produce with their school lunch)
  • A wider variety of vegetables, including dark green and red/orange vegetables and legumes
  • Fat-free or 1 percent milk (flavored milk must be fat-free)
  • Reduced sodium content

Officials with the School Nutrition Association of Connecticut said they applaud the federal school lunch changes, but added that some districts in Connecticut were already trying to make their lunches healthier before the new rules were passed.

“While these standards will be seen in schools nationwide for the first time this fall, many Connecticut school districts have already begun these efforts,” said Susan Maffe, President of SNACT. “We continue to proactively work to offer additional opportunities for healthier and nutritious lunches and are committed to ensuring a higher quality of nutritional standards than ever before as well as empowering students to make a healthier change.”

dolphinlover August 28, 2012 at 01:22 AM
I understand the importance of eating healthier, however making the kids take a produce item seems to me that a lot will go to waste if a child doesn't like produce. My son pretty much eats everything and he told me that they are forcing you to take a fruit and vegetable at Masuk w/ your lunch. He said if you dont take one when you go to check out the make you take one or you cant check out. To me this is ridiculous. How many fruits are going to be wasted because the child id forced to take a piece and then just tosses it because they dont want it? Yes, school lunches should be healthier, however it should be up to the student whether they want fruit or not. I can go on and on but I wont. I'm just tired or big brother telling us what to do once again.
dolphinlover August 28, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Apparently, they also did away with the Bacon Egg& cheese breakfast sandwich's but yet have sausage, tater tots, fries, cheese on burgers(why I don't know it's a dairy source), and chips & cookies. My son is so upset. He eats breakfast at home but also sometimes would get breakfast at school. I am all for this in the younger schools but once you get to high school you should be entiltled to make your own choice.
Lynn August 28, 2012 at 11:04 AM
If only the lunches actually looked this appetizing. My kids have stopped buying lunch because they look so discusting. Grey meats, soggy veggies, warm soft apples just to name a few.
JoAnn Toth August 28, 2012 at 05:41 PM
It's not a matter of "force". As a former Food Service worker in the Trumbull system, the rule of thumb is Offer vs Serve. You do NOT have to choose all the componants on your tray however you do need to have a protein, which is the main food,a vegetable and a fruit, which can be an apple, a fruit cup or a fruit juice. This constitutes a lunch meal. It has nothing to do with "big brother" it has all to do with kids eating the proper foods. Your son can always bring the apple home and put it in the fridge for someone else to eat. True that the kids throw away tons of food in school lunch rooms and thats ashame! Flip side to this is for your son to make and bring his own lunch. That way he can eat what he chooses from home. The cafetaria workers are only following the rules. If they didn't it would mean their job. Suggest that your son just takes a fruit choice and has a healthier lunch.
JoAnn Toth August 28, 2012 at 05:53 PM
I find that hard to believe. Food has to be stored and served at the proper temperatures at all times. You have the ability to visit your child, with a visitors pass from the office, and have lunch with them. I suggest you all do so that you can see the expertice these lovely people perform every day for your kids! One other thing... please remember that the food for lunch is not prepared by a restaurant cook but rather prepared as per direction and Food Service Regulations. Grey meat??? Warm soft apples??? Soggy vegetables??? Someones got you believing a tall tale for sure. If the State ever did one of their suprise visits and found any of that the cafe would be closed down. I sure would like to know what meat was grey?? That one really got me laughing. One more thing... as for the warm apples... I remember eating apples warm from the summer sun right off the tree from my grandmother's yard. Not a thing wrong with that, love! Yum
QWERTY August 28, 2012 at 06:28 PM
I wish I was back in school, lunch was $2.50.
JoAnn Toth August 28, 2012 at 06:29 PM
It only went up .25 cents. I'd say thats a great deal considering.
Christine E. August 28, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I think there's a big difference between a good lunch staff, and quality product. You can be the best lunch staff on the planet, it doesn't mean the food brought into the school system is of good quality. It's usually cheap. Why? Because no one wants to pay for the increase in cost when it comes to providing a higher grade option. No, I don't believe High School aged kids should be told they have to take a fruit. It's a waste of food if they aren't going to eat it. I remember my school had a policy that no food was to leave the cafeteria...that policy still exists in my old high school. That being said, how do you expect kids to take something home when they aren't allowed to leave the cafeteria with it? Chances are it would end up on the bottom of their lockers, anyway. Good lord.
JoAnn Toth August 28, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Good Lord is right, Christine! The Lord provided us with food and we sit here and spit on the blessing. Here is the solution once again in case you missed it..... bring your own lunch as many do. No one is forcing kids to buy the school lunch. Thats the rules of the program. Is anyone "forcing" you to stop at a red light??? I just wish that it can go to kids who are so hungry that they would eat the wrapping the food came in. We are such a spoiled civilization! When I went to Catholic School years ago, they didn't have school lunch. We all ate at our desk whatever our moms made... and know what, Christine............ we ate it! To complain was disrespectful. Your'e right, don't waste food. The way to do that is don't buy the school lunch. I tried to offer intelligent information and suggestions but I see that some just aren't able to wrap their minds around the solution. Oh well, it's to be expected.
JoAnn Toth August 28, 2012 at 06:51 PM
PS Hopfully a rotton apple is ALL you find at the bottom of a locker!
Walt August 28, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Let's leave the imaginary beings out of it.
JoAnn Toth August 28, 2012 at 06:55 PM
ok. I am SO done with this foolishness. Do what you want, Believe what you want. Complain as much as you want. You are the pimples on the butt of society! I will not respond to any further illerate comments. Bye and God's blessings. By the way..... He is real.... you'll see.
dolphinlover August 28, 2012 at 07:09 PM
I have eaten lunch w/ my kids in the past and some lunches really do look unappetizing. I am all for eating better, however they did make a change today my son told me that if you didn't want your fruit they were going to collect it and donate to the food pantry. Obviously, after one day they realized how much was wasted. High school kids should be able to eat what they want. How will they learn to make good choices (just like in anything else) if they are told they have to take something. Personally, I would not want to be told what to take and not to take. My son did eat the fruit, but should not be required to do so if he didn't feel like it. He occasionally will bring his own lunch as well, but feels like he wants to spend "HIS" money, that he earns, his wayand not by being told how to do it. Part of the growing process.
Christine E. August 28, 2012 at 07:20 PM
You're right JoAnn. Your point of view is the only point of view. I'll remember that for next time :)
Christine E. August 28, 2012 at 07:21 PM
haha. You spelled illiterate incorrectly. Irony is funny.
christine August 28, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Well, I'll be the odd one out and say I am all for the new changes. My child loves the lunches so far, today it was mac and cheese, raw broccoli, pear slices etc. I've seen the way some adults eat, and the "healthy" snacks they send in with their children (such as twinkies!) so it's wonderful to teach the children of all ages healthier choices. As pointed out, they can always bring in their own lunches if they aren't happy, I sure don't have fond memories of my own school lunches!
Christine E. August 28, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Yes - but Mac and Cheese is not healthy. Mac and Cheese is loaded with fat and cholesterol. Making a kid eat a pear or some broccoli with the mac and cheese, doesn't cancel out the health factor.
christine August 28, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Actually the lunches are now required to be lower in fat, low trans fats, low sodium, more whole grains etc. So the new mac and cheese likely isn't the same old mac and cheese we remember from our childhood. The above news story doesn't give all the info, I will try to attach a link to the newsletter from Sodexho that came home to parents, it lists the changes in more detail. https://www.sodexoeducation.com/segment_0200/district_0907/ENM/Entry1/view_pdf.asp?school=5&mealCategory=10&month=2012/8&fichier=201208_51_440_5_10.pdf&monthSelected=August%202012&schoolSelected=Monroe%20Elementary%20School&mealSelected=Parent%20Back%20To%20School%20Newsletter&erreurPdf=
christine August 28, 2012 at 08:10 PM
If anyone wants to see the menus, here's another link. I think there are a lot of choices. https://www.sodexoeducation.com/segment_0200/district_0907/ENM/Entry1/default.asp?school=5&mealCategory=9&month=2012/8&fichier=&monthSelected=August%202012&schoolSelected=Monroe%20Elementary%20School&mealSelected=Parent%20Newsletter&erreurPdf=true

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