The era of students piling tater tots or French fries on a plate and calling it lunch are over. That’s a good thing in the long run – for all of us. With childhood obesity rates spiking higher every year, the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act is designed to combat obesity while encouraging healthy eating habits in children. Students and staff at Cazenovia have already noticed the differences as they sat down in our school cafeterias this school year.
The federal legislation, championed by First Lady, Michele Obama through her Let’s Move health and wellness program, made significant changes to the nation’s $11 billion school lunch program. The program’s requirements had been essentially unchanged for the past 15 years. Students who buy lunch will be able to pick and choose from a variety of healthy options. For example, schools will now double the amount of fruits and vegetables that they serve every day of the week, serve only fat-free and low-fat milk choices and include more whole grains. In addition, calorie limits for students have been set based on grade level. Maximum calories per served lunch are: 650 calories for grades K-5; 700 calories for grades 6-8; and 850 calories for grades 9-12.
Dieticians say that a typical teenage girl, for example, should consume about 1,800 calories per day; a typical teenage boy needs 2,200 calories. Students will get about one-third to one-half of the calories they need every day with a school lunch. The changes that took effect in September are the first steps in a three-year plan to phase-in the new standards. Changes to breakfast meals and snacks served in school will happen over the next two years.
Many parents have probably already heard from their child that the lunch program isn’t filling any more. They don’t feel satisfied.
While all students eat differently, the goal of the program was never for children to feel stuffed and groggy as they return to their classrooms. The new meals are balanced and, if a child selects from each category, he or she will be eating a healthy meal that will help them perform at their levels in class
What Has changed at Cazenovia?
Chartwells School Dining Services is the new manager of the food service department at Cazenovia. The company, which is a USDA National Strategic Partner, consistently meets or exceeds many of the new requirements for school meals. Here’s an overview of how the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act will roll out at Cazenovia this year:
• New grade groups for menu planning will be aimed at ensuring students receive age-appropriate portions and nutrients.
Changes in specific serving sizes might mean some smaller portion sizes on some items, like burritos, wraps, sub sandwiches, hot meat sandwiches, calzones/strombolis and pasta dishes.
• Students must select foods from five food groups: fruits, vegetables, protein, whole grains and milk. Student meals must contain at least three of the five food groups – and one of their choices must be from fruit and/or vegetable group. If no fruit or vegetable is selected, the student will pay the individual item prices for foods instead of the complete meal price.
• Students need to select at least ½ cup of fruit or vegetable to make up a complete meal. All students will be offered double the amount of fruits and vegetables with meals. Colorful fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals important for growth and development during childhood. Fruit and vegetables that include dark greens, orange starchy vegetables and legumes are packed with nutrients.
• Menus will offer specific amounts of whole grains and proteins that meet the federal requirements. The new regulations require that half of grains offered at lunch be whole grains. For some breads and meats, students might see smaller size portions.
Chartwells offers a variety of whole grains like their trademark whole-grain pizza crust – PIZZAM!, rolls, muffins, pancakes, waffles and whole-grain/reduced sugar cereals.
• The food service continues to work with food manufacturers to reformulate food products including lower sodium sauces and spreads. Chartwells’ chefs and registered dietitians continually create new recipes that use non-salt seasonings and herbs to replace and reduce salt.
• The lunch program only serves food products and ingredients that contain zero grams of trans fats per serving and we encourage the use of healthy fats and oils.
It is important to limit unhealthy fats such as saturated and trans fat because eating too many can lead to heart disease and high cholesterol, as well as other chronic diseases.
Meal prices were raised this year because of the new federal requirements and increases in food and transportation costs. The price of a school breakfast and lunch was increased this year. Cazenovia parents and students, however, still receive a bargain for their breakfast and lunch prices: breakfasts will cost $1.65 each and lunches will be $1.90 each. Meal prices are set annually by the Cazenovia CSD.
Cazenovia CSD is dedicated to providing quality, nutritious meals that students will enjoy and choose to eat. We hope you will encourage your children to try new fruits and vegetables and you will join us for a meal at school to see the changes for yourself.
If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the Director of Dining Services, Deborah Fernan, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.