Healthy Changes Coming To School Lunches

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This year, students will see some big changes come lunch time.

“This is the first in a long time that there’s some real changes in the USDA regulation and it’s across the nation,” said Bertrand Weber, director of culinary and nutrition services for Minneapolis Public Schools.

One of the biggest changes with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, now in effect, is the requirement of a serving of fruits or vegetables per meal. If the child does not take a fruit or vegetable the food is not considered a reimbursable meal.

The USDA has always required students take three of five components per meal. For example a hamburger and milk contains three components. It has grain, protein and dairy. Now one additional component must be fruit or veggies.

Another new regulation is the minimum and maximum when it comes to calories for grains and proteins. In the past there was only a minimum requirement. Weber says this is really going to affect how children eat.

“Not a bad thing. It’s just something that’s brand new,” Weber said. “The new regulation has limited refined carbohydrates, but it’s also increased whole grains.”

Currently, only 50 percent of the grains used for lunches have to be whole grain, but eventually it will have to be entirely whole grain.

The new regulations are backed by First Lady, Michelle Obama. Approximately 17 percent of the children ages 2 to 19 are obese in the United States according to the CDC.

“I think there’s going to be some real challenges,” Weber said. “I think school districts across the country are working real hard at this.”

The change is also going to cost the district a little extra money. Weber is anticipating a 12 to 15 percent increase in cost.

School nutritionists say for a long time they focused on carbs and proteins, but now the focus has shifted to fruits and veggies.

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