School lunch makeover

For the first time in 15 years, the USDA has made significant changes to school meals in an effort to curb childhood obesity.

school lunch

Increasing vegetables: Schools must offer more vegetables to all students. For K-8, schools must offer at least 3¾ cups vegetables each week and ¾ cup per day. For 9-12, schools must offer 5 cups vegetables each week and 1 cup per day. Schools must offer vegetable subgroups—dark green, red/orange, beans and peas (legumes), starchy and other—during the course of the week at minimum requirements beginning SY 2012-2013. The following amounts are the new requirements for vegetable subgroups for lunches:

Dark Green: 1⁄2 cup (all ages)
Red/orange: 3⁄4 cup (K-8); 11⁄4 cup (9-12)
Beans/peas (legumes): 1⁄2 cup (all ages)
Starchy: 1⁄2 cup (all ages)
Other: 1⁄2 cup (K-8); 3⁄4 cup (9-12)

Beans and peas (legumes) can be credited toward the vegetable component. Green peas, green lima beans and green string beans are not considered part of this subgroup. Schools can serve fresh, frozen and canned vegetables.

Grains: For NSLP, in SY 2012-2013 and SY 2013-2014, whole grain-rich products must make up half of all grain products offered. During this time only, refined grain foods that are enriched may be included. Starting SY 2014-2015, schools must offer only whole grain-rich products. A whole grain-rich food must contain at least 51% whole grains and the remaining grain content must be enriched. Starting SY 2012-2013, schools must offer a weekly grains range. For K-5, schools must offer an 8- to 9-ounce equivalent per week and 1 ounce per day; 6-8, 8- to 10-ounce equivalent per week and 1 ounce per day; and 9-12, 10- to 12-ounce equivalent and 2 ounces per day.

For breakfast, weekly grain ranges and the half of whole grain-rich requirements begin July 1, 2013. All grains offered starting in SY 2014-2015 must be whole grain-rich. The weekly grain ranges are as follows: K-5 (7 to 10 ounces per week and 1 ounce per day); 6-8 (8 to 10 ounces per week and 1 ounce per day); and 9-12 (9 to 10 ounces per week and 1 ounce per day). Once schools meet the minimum daily grain quantity of 1 ounce, they are allowed to offer a meat/meat alternative in place of grains, which counts toward the weekly grains requirement. A 1-ounce equivalent of meat/meat alternative is equal to 1 ounce of grain. The final rule does not require a meat/meat alternative daily at breakfast.

Schools may count two grain-based desserts per week as part of the weekly grains requirement.

Meat/meat alternatives: Schools must offer a minimum amount of meat/meat alternative per day for NSLP beginning SY 2012-2013. For 9-12, that amount is a 2-ounce equivalent; for K-8, that amount is a 1-ounce equivalent. Schools also must serve a weekly requirement; K-5 (8 to 10 ounces per week and 1 ounce per day), 6-8 (9 to 10 ounces per week and 1 ounce per day) and 9-12 (10 to 12 ounces and 2 ounces per day).

Schools can offer commercially prepared tofu as a meat alternative. Mature beans and dry peas (kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, garbanzo beans/chickpeas, black-eyed peas, split peas and lentils) may be counted as meat alternatives. However, those beans and peas may not count for both a meat alternative and vegetable in the same meal.

Fluid milk: Schools may only serve fat-free flavored milk and fat-free or low-fat non-flavored milk, starting SY 2012-2013. Fluid milk must be offered with every school meal; however, students may decline milk under offer verses serve.

Water must be available in the service area, but water may not be offered in place of fluid milk for a reimbursable meal. This rule does not affect the nutrition standards for optional non-dairy drinks offered to students with special dietary needs.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Noncommercial foodservice operations and other employers would be spared from costly new overtime pay regulations if 21 states succeed in the legal challenge they jointly filed yesterday.

The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to set aside the rules, which are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1.

If the court rejects the request, restaurants and other businesses will be required after that date to pay overtime to any salaried employee who works more than 40 hours in a week and earns less than $47,476 on an annual basis.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

The new unpaid-balance policy at Canon-McMillan School District in Pittsburgh is making waves after a former cafeteria worker sounded off about the practice on social media.

Stacy Koltiska said she quit her job with the district after being forced to take hot meals away from students who owed lunch money, CBS News reports .

Under a new policy that was implemented at Canon-McMillan this year, students whose lunch debt exceeds $25 are not allowed to receive a hot lunch. Children in grades K-6 are given a sandwich in its place, and older students receive no lunch. A recent...

Industry News & Opinion

Due to low participation in its lunch program, Talawanda School District in Oxford, Ohio, is raising the price of school meals this year, Patch.com reports .

The cost of school lunches will see a 30-cent increase, half of which is being enacted to cover the district’s budget. The other half is being required by the government to cover the cost of free and reduced-price lunches provided to low-income families. Prior to this year, the district had not raised prices since 2009.

The district’s cafeterias have experienced a decline in student participation since implementing the...

Industry News & Opinion

Six Philadelphia hospitals were honored by the city’s department of public health for healthy food initiatives introduced as part of the local Good Food, Healthy Hospitals program, bizjournals.com reports .

The hospitals each debuted healthy measures to their dining services, such as lowering the cost of water bottles and seltzers, and offering dishes that incorporate local produce. One hospital was also honored for operating its own organic farm.

The facilities that were honored were:

Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Eastern...

FSD Resources