By Holly Wagner, WCCO-TV

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
Contact Sonya

WCCO-TV’s Liz Collin Reports

Comments (15)
  1. Jaylee says:

    Yeah. This is great news and a step in the right direction. I may even consider letting my children purchase lunch rather than make it for them.

  2. Jj says:

    Does this mean catsup is no longer a federally designated vegetable? Hope this works, but the spare tire does start at home.

  3. Mardty says:

    Along with heathier lunches, A longer lunch time would be helpful. The children need to be more active to help the wieght problem.

  4. Ct says:

    This will be a terrible waste. I use to work in a school kitchen washing dishes and I was shocked at how much food gets thrown out. I think about 90% of the vegetables got thrown down the garbage disposal because kids would not eat them.

    1. I'm Luvin' It. says:

      Ct, when you change an entire menu to healthy foods, then the kids will have no choice but to eat what’s being served. I think this is a terrific idea and wished that this was implemented a long time ago, when I last graduated HS in 2006. It saves life and kids’ health.

  5. Victim Du Jour says:

    It’s not up to schools to make kids eat properly, they should offer whole grain box lunches to anyone who did not bring breakfast or Lunch and that’s it.

    Problem solved

    1. I'm Luvin' It. says:

      Victim, think about it. Your kids are at school for 8 hours a day. Your school sees them more than you do. Unless you’re a home mom and love to pack lunch for your kids everyday, I can see how you may not want to participate in this program, but in today’s society, both parents work full-time and they leave it to their schools to properly educate their kids.

      “It’s not up to schools to make kids eat properly…” – Are you saying they should get rid of health class? What if that little boy learned the food pyramid and wants to eat healthy, but all the school had was junky foods?

  6. lunch lady says:

    hmm, schools feed the kids 180 lunches a year, maybe 180 breakfasts, too. Parents feed them 735 to 915 meals. Wonder how many of those meals are from McDonalds…

    1. I'm Luvin' It. says:

      Like this.

  7. lalie says:

    I think it’s great and all but My only concern is, How can they decide How much each 1st 2nd or 3rd….graders get to eat ?…are the 5th graders who are as tall as the 9th graders going to be getting enough nutrition and enough to eat ? and are they going to spend the rest of their school day hungry? I have worked with a lot of kids who can not concentrate when they are hungry and it really hurts their learning. I just really hope it works. and yea there are way to many parents that buy too much fast food for their kids so it’s good that they are guaranteed at least 1 healthy meal each day….

  8. Carol says:

    I worked in a school system and the Majority of the fresh fruit and vegetables were not consumed and tossed out, – such a waste of good products. We also had a fresh fruit and vegetable (healthy snack) program and the teacher’s poo pooed it and did not use the program as a learning tool to discuss where and how the various products were grown and how they were produced, and many said to their students I would not eat that. I hate to say most of the adults have no idea how good fresh fruit and vegetables are. Many adults live on fast food and prepackaged products. Many people have NO idea what to do with a piece of raw fish or how to make a fruit salad. Without putting all the sugar in items to destroy the natural flavor of foods. We all know people who eat to much and would be healthier if we put in an hour of exercise each day. Family’s would be happier if they turned of the TV and take a walk with their family’s talking and learning about everyone’s day. When was the last time YOU took a walk with your family, and really listened to the stories they had to tell? School can only do part of it the rest really has to come from HOME!

  9. Lindsay Maycroft Bonnema says:

    The idea that everything we eat is based on personal choice is true, but this idea, paired with blind trust in the FDA, USDA, Dept. Of Agriculture and most of all, food processing companies, has led to the irresponsible and unhealthy way US food is now produced. People need to use their personal responsibility and choice to begin learning more about how food in the US is grown, processed, marketed and labeled, so that when we do make personal choices about what we eat, we actually know everything that has gone into that product. Right now we believe what food companies tell us with their misleading labels and pictures of family farms. Food companies PURPOSELY MISLEAD us to make a profit – just like every other type of business. It is time for change and re-education. Any time we try to make something better, we need to allow for a learning curve – any movement forward is positive. Don’t poo poo a new program just because it’s not perfect. Instead, let it be part of a process that we will continually improve.

  10. Bill says:

    “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.”

    It’s too bad they don’t take the steps that are actually needed–making it such that the kids get their serving of breakfast fruit and their two servings of lunch vegetables FIRST, and that anything else is not served to them until those are consumed. The kids would be a lot healthier, and the waste would be a lot less, with this one simple improvement. And with the kids ‘forcing’ themselves to eat their fruits and veggies just to get to the rest of the food, they’ll actually quickly come to like the rest of the food too. The reason so many of them dislike those items now is that they’re afraid of things unfamiliar to them, and the parents’ meal-prep laziness has caused the kids to not be familiar with these items. This approach would fix that, for a long-term healthier lifestyle for everyone involved.

    And if the kids choose not to eat the veggies–trust me, no kid is going to starve to death because they choose not to eat a meal, and will quickly come around to eating what’s offered to them once they spend an afternoon or two with a little bit of hunger.

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