MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s the first major overhaul of school lunches in 15 years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is raising nutrition standards for the first time in more than a decade in hopes of getting kids to eat healthier.
About a third of children and teens are overweight — that’s about 25 million kids.
Minneapolis and St. Paul schools say they’ve already got a lot of these changes in place. The students at Jenny Lind school in Minneapolis really like their lunches.
“I like chicken and corn,” said Kindergartner Marquis.
He might be hard pressed to find corn on the new menu. The government is cutting down on the amount of starchy vegetables, things like potatoes, corn and peas. From now on, students will only be able to get one starchy veggie a week.
“They use to have french fries, we no longer serve fries,” said Mary Laskowski, Jenny Lind cafeteria spokesperson.
They’ll be counting calories on the new menu, too.
Here’s how it breaks down for lunch:
— 550 to 650 calories for kindergarten through fifth grade
— 600 to 700 for grades 6 through 8
— 750 to 850 for grades 9 through 12
“It’s age appropriate so when they’re smaller, their stomachs are smaller and they would be eating more often, so the calories would be lower to meet the needs that they need at that time,” said Lisa Thompson, clinical dietitian at United Hospital.
And whole milk is out. Cafeterias can now only dish out unflavored 1-percent milk or fat-free flavored or unflavored milk.
“We serve a skim chocolate milk, and we serve 1-percent milk. We don’t serve whole milk,” said Laskowski.
Students will be chowing down on more fruits and veggies, too. The new rule includes that a serving of fruit be offered daily at breakfast and lunch and that two servings of vegetables be offered daily at lunch.
This might not sit to well with little Anaveh.
“I don’t like fruits and veggies, because I don’t like them,” she said.
Eating healthy is more expensive, so to help the government will give schools more money for free lunch programs as long as they comply with the new standards.
The Minneapolis School District yanked some of the more popular but unhealthy options off the menu like corn dogs, chicken nuggets and strawberry milk.
The district did a lot of what the USDA is now calling for, got rid of processed food, added more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
Sonya Goins, Producer
WCCO-TV’s Liz Collin Reports