In addition, portion sizes will be adjusted to ensure the calorie content of meals are appropriate for the age of children being served.
The changes will fulfill new federal requirements for school meals issued earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Under the new rules, menus will be designed to reduce the amount of saturated fat, tans fats and sodium.
For example, students will be offered only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties and will be required to take a half of a cup of fruit or vegetable for a complete meal.
What’s on the menu?
School meals will now offer:
- A variety of fresh fruits and vegetables at every meal
- Whole grain rich foods, such as bread and pasta
- Low fat milk, water and 100% fruit and vegetable juices Lower salt (sodium) options
Major school meal changes:
- Students will be required to take a fruit or vegetable
- Meals will vary in size to meet calorie needs based on grades: Kindergarten-‐5th grade, 6th-‐8th grade and 9th -‐12th grade
- Meals will now feature a greater variety and more servings of fruits and vegetables highlighting dark green, vibrant red/orang vegetables and legumes/beans
- More whole grain foods will be available
- Plain low-‐fat or fat-‐free milk or \lavored fat-‐free milk will be available
- Saturated fat will be reduced and all meals will contain 0 grams of trans fats
- Salt (sodium) will be reduced in all meals
How you can help:
- Review what is available for school meals and talk with your child about what they will eat.
- Encourage your child to try new foods at home and school.
- Join your child at school for breakfast or lunch.
Don’t Forget: Kids Need Breakfast too! Schools serve breakfast every day!
Some local school districts’ initiatives:
Seattle Public Schools has been working with the Tom Douglas Group to develop new kid-tested menu concepts. They have held family events to taste test menu items, including: Butternut squash curry and chicken with couscous; baked pollack (white fish with tomato topping); cheese enchiladas with homemade chili sauce; chicken and vegetables with noodles and cherry blossom sauce; tabouli salad, fresh greens and focaccia bread; and yogurt fruit parfait.
Kent School District has partnered with the Washington State Department of Agriculture to incorporate a greater variety of fresh Washington-grown produce into the foods they serve. They have used taste tests and surveys to gauge student response to new items, and invited farmers in to speak with students about the foods they grow.
Renton School District Nutrition Services began working with chefs from the Renton Technical College and their high school nutrition council to develop new menu items to meet the new nutrition standards. “We’re excited about providing a wider variety of fruits and vegetables that are packed full of the vitamins and minerals kids need and are essential for a healthy body and mind,” said Kira Acker, Nutrition Services Director for the Renton School District. “
A grant funded the Auburn School District’s Whole Foods Cooking class “discover. cook. nourish” developed by Cynthia Lair, Cookus Interruptus. Over 400 school cafeteria staff in 12 school districts in King County attended this successful certified training course to help prepare staff for the school meal changes.
“Auburn School District continues to offer whole foods cooking whenever possible to meet the new guidelines and is excited to expose students to new and different fruits and vegetables that will awaken their interest in trying new foods,” said Carol Barker, Auburn School District’s Child Nutrition Supervisor.
To learn more:
- Learn more about nutrition and balanced meals at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/
- More information about the national USDA requirements can be found at: www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/lunch/
- Information about local lunch programs can be found on the King County website: www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/nutrition/schools.aspx