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Anchor Bay, L'Anse Creuse Districts Make Healthier Changes to School Lunches

The United States Department of Agriculture has set new requirements for public school lunches that will alter the foods students will be served in cafeterias this year.

Schools nationwide will be serving healthier lunches this year.

Anchor Bay School District and L’Anse Creuse Public Schools are no exception. Like other districts across the country, they will implement new guidelines set by the United States Department of Agriculture this year that aim to improve the quality of school lunches by increasing their nutritional value.

“The focus is really to get schools to move with using whole-grain products and to make sure they’re serving healthier portion sizes of the higher-calorie items like meat and meat alternates and increase on fruit and vegetables,” said Teresa Arnold, Sodexo school services general manager for LCPS.

School lunches are now separated into five components: meats/meat alternates, grains, fruits, vegetables and milk. A student must take three of the five components for it to be considered a meal, and one of those components must be at least one serving of a fruit or vegetable.

In a letter to Anchor Bay familes, the district stated that now is an ideal time to encourage school lunches.

"As Anchor Bay students return to school this fall, they'll find healthy choices in their school cafeterias. School meals offer students milk, fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains, and they must meet strict limits on saturated fat and portion size," according to Charlene Pizzimenti of the district's food services department.

Additionally, the USDA has regulated the minimum and maximum amounts of certain meal components that schools can give to each student:

Kindergarten-Grade 5:

  • Fruits: ½ cup minimum per day
  • Vegetables: ¾ cup minimum per day
  • Grains: 8-9 ounces per week
  • Meats/meat alternates: 8-10 ounces per week
  • Calories: 550-650 calories per lunch
  • Trans fat: 0 trans fat

Grades 6-8:

  • Fruits: ½ cup minimum per day
  • Vegetables: ¾ cup minimum per day
  • Grains: 8-10 ounces per week
  • Meats/meat alternates: 9-10 ounces per week
  • Calories: 600-700 calories per lunch
  • Trans fat: 0 trans fat

Grades 9-12:

  • Fruits: 1 cup minimum per day
  • Vegetables: 1 cup minimum per day
  • Grains: 10-12 ounces per week
  • Meats/meat alternates: 10-12 ounces per week
  • Calories: 750-850 calories per lunch
  • Trans fat: 0 trans fat

Preparing students, parents for changes

Arnold said some of the changes were introduced last year in the 16 L’Anse Creuse schools that participate in the USDA’s National School Lunch Program to help students adjust to the new standards.

“This past school year, we began implementing some changes so there wouldn’t be such a huge difference when the kids walked in and so it would be an easier transition for them,” she said.

At Anchor Bay, the lunch prices have changed this school year to $2.10 for elementary students and $2.35 for secondary students. Parents can pay for the meals at www.sendmoneytoschool.com. There is a $1.85 fee for each transaction for online payments. For more information or to view menus, visit www.anchorbay.misd.net/departments/foodservice/

Snacks and beverages

While the new guidelines do not come with mandates for snacks served at school, Arnold said L’Anse Creuse has taken on regulating a la carte snacks, as well as beverages. Items like pop and ice cream are not sold in the district, she said, although the schools cannot control what goes into the vending machines.

“There are no a la carte snacks in elementary whatsoever, but in middle and high school we follow the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Act, which gives guidelines on what are approved snacks and beverages,” Arnold explained. “We don’t sell the sugary sports drinks and we have a whole list of products that fall into the healthy guidelines.”

L’Anse Creuse collaborates with Gordon Food Services and Sodexo, Inc., a provider of integrated food and facilities management services, to provide school lunches. The food is prepared for students on site, Arnold said. She noted that the district breaks even with food program sales.

Patch Editor Christy Arboscello contributed to this report.

Christy Arboscello September 04, 2012 at 11:50 AM
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