Schools struggle to meet new meal guidelines

Cost is biggest challenge in meeting standards.

March 5—Food trays at Oskosh, Wis.-area schools will appear more colorful next fall as districts comply with the new federal guidelines that raise standards nationwide for healthier meals for the first time in 15 years.

Children won’t be able to decline their fruits and vegetables when the new standards for school meals are put into place. Instead of the current requirement for a mere one-half to three-fourths of a cup of fruits and vegetables combined, children will have to take three-fourths to one cup of vegetables plus one-half to one cup of fruit every day. Getting the kids to eat the new healthier version of lunch is one thing. Paying for it is another part of the puzzle.

Currently, the cost of a hot lunch in Oshkosh schools is $1.90 for elementary, $2 for middle school and $2.15 for high school.

The prices will go up 10 cents at each level next year, West said.

Cutting back on meat and bread will realize some savings, but adding more fruits and vegetables will tilt the scales in the other direction, she said.