For this up and coming school year, parents and students can expect a change in the cafeteria and its not the lines or seating area.
All five schools will serve 100 percent whole wheat products, and meals will include a larger portion of fruits and vegetables, according to Director of Food Services and Chef Timothy Prosinski.
For a few years now, we have been proactive and have slowly introduces the kids to healthier foods and larger fruits and vegetables servings.
The Federal Department of Agriculture released a new meal plan that dictates what school districts serve as beverages, meats, vegetables, bread, greens and what is required for each serving size.
July 1 marked the start of new nutritional standards schools will be required to follow under the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and new guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In the near future its going to be government mandated that all schools across the state and nationwide serve larger amounts of vegetables and fruits, Prosinski said.
The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 gives the USDA the opportunity to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children, according to the USDA website.
Its the first time that the USDA made such significant changes with meal patterns, said Susan Fiore, the nutrition education coordinator at the Connecticut State Department of Education. I think its going to be a process because some of the requirements will be quite different and kids may not be used to it.
The changes will affect more than 32 million children nationwide and is being described as the largest change to school lunches in 15 years. The new standards, based on dietary guidelines, will be implemented in phases. Fruit requirements at breakfast and lunch will be increased.
Half of the grain products must be whole-grain-rich foods. Only low-fat milk will be served, and a certain amount of legumes, orange, red, or green vegetables will be required on the school menu each week. Many of the changes are expected to occur gradually, over three years. By 2014, every grain that is served will have to be whole grain.
Lunches will have to consist of a serving of milk, a vegetable or fruit and a meal. Instead of grabbing a slice of pizza and a drink, students also will have to take a vegetable or a fruit.
This month, Prosinski and his managing staff will attend a USDA training session to learn more about the nationwide healthy foods initiative. Prosinski already attended a conference in June, but will gain further training on how to increase the nutritional value of each school meal.
Prosinski estimates about 90 percent of the school districts past food items where whole wheat. He said kids sometimes had a choice between white, whole grain or whole wheat rolls and other sandwich breads. This year Food Services will receive shipments of fresh whole wheat breads from a deli, which will include rolls and grinders.
Fiore believes that, although there is a chance of revenue loss at first, these nutritional standards are critical to childrens health and can make a difference in the way American children are eating.
It sets a good role model for the way that kids should be eating, Fiore said. It follows national health recommendations and focuses on a meal that is heavily based on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Its definitely a recommendation based on the best science we have at the time to how we need to eat to be healthy and to avoid the risk of heart disease.
According to a news release on the USDA website, the standards for the act spawned from a collaboration with a panel of experts assembled by the Institute of Medicine, a nonprofit organization that provides health analysis based on evidence.
While creating the new standards, the panel and USDA also kept in mind some major changes from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans that aims to foster healthy eating habits and encourages the changes at home.
The release stated that the final standards make the same kinds of practical changes that many parents are already encouraging at home such as offering more fruits and vegetables to the children every day.
Another major change that comes along with the new nutritional standards is that every school around the country will be using the same menu planning system. In the past, schools had several options to choose from for their menu, but now all schools have to plan the menu based on the food items they serve.
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