Changes in school lunch programs

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The new federal Department of Agricultural guidelines for school lunches went into effect and is one of the largest changes in many years.

Gena Mostrong, BIC dietary manager, discusses changes in school lunch program.

Gena Mostrong, dietary manager at Buffalo Island Central School District, said this is the largest change in her 14 years of service.

"The paper work has more than doubled," Mostrong said. "The students are really not liking the new meal pattern and we are having a lot of food wasted. Cooking and serving more nutritious meals is a good thing, but I am afraid our lunch participation will go down in the cafeteria if the students do not like the food."

The menu has some changes for grades K-5; 6-8 and 9-12. Basically the menus are the same but more fruit or vegetables or grain products have to be served the different groups.

"We are trying to offer different vegetables but the students don't seem to care for them," Mostrong said. "We go by the state recipes and cook the food as required. We use lower salt, less sodium, and the milk is one percent fat free. We are required to serve at least one serving of grain each day and we are using whole grain bread. Our rolls are at least 51 percent wheat."

Calorie intake for each grade level is different. Grades K-5 are limited to 550 to 650 calories per day. Grades 6-8 are limited to 600 to 700 calories per day. Grades 9-12 are limited to 750-850 calories per day.

Grades K-8 must have one-half cup of fruit per day and grades 9-12 must have one cup per day. Grades K-8 must have three quarters of a cup of vegetables per day and 9-12 must have one cup.

"Our cafeteria workers are adjusting to the changes," Mostrong said. "Portions are larger on every level but it is just not what the students like. It is really different. Everything I've learned over my 13 years has been changed. We have a six cycle menu from the state and we can make some small interchanges and we are looking at that. There will be training for our cooks and staff and managers in menu planning and production records."

Mostrong said BIC will be offering a salad bar giving students a choice of the regular menu or a salad bar. The salad bar will also be under the federal guidelines.

"We are offering fruit with breakfast this year," she said. "The breakfast changes will go into place next year and we are getting a little head start."

Several high school students were asked about the new lunch menu and comments included:

*They liked the food better last year.

*They miss the gravy on their potatoes.

*They want their salads served with dressing.

*They will eat the salad bar when it is available.

*They do not like the wheat rolls.

Most of the high school students said they are not happy with the changes.

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