Kids shuffling into the cafeteria at schools this year may be surprised by what’s on the menu. Updated federal nutrition guidelines have many schools serving up brand new menus in an attempt to meet the guidelines and get kids used to eating healthier lunches.
US News and World Report outlines some of the new changes and what kids and parents can expect from their school cafeterias. Under the new guidelines schools must offer fat-free or low fat milk (no whole milk) as well as a selection of fruits and vegetables daily.
Schools must also count calories and offer a lunch according to what is recommended based on the student’s age. Kids from kindergarten through fifth grade will be given lunches that do not exceed 650 calories and their school breakfast will top off at 500 calories. Salt, trans fat and saturated fat will be more strictly regulated and kids will see more whole grains on their plates.
For some schools, the new healthier menus have been offered for a while now. In Knox County Tennesse schools have been serving up a whole grain pizza pie with low sodium sauce containing sweet potato puree. Oklahoma’s Shawnee public schools are seeing items like squash sticks, pineapple and baked beans on the menu. And in Andover Massachusetts some students are eating whole-grain chicken pot pie, fresh cantaloupe and oven-roasted butternut squash.
What do you think of the new menus schools are adopting to meet the federal guidelines for school lunches?
Have you seen any of these changes in your kids’ schools?
As a mom of a kindergartener and first year teacher in the same district. I was surprised on how encompassing the wellness plan is. Not only is the school lunch healthier but other activities involving food are restricted. There are not food related celebrations and bake sales can only be held off hours. My children are use to being offered fruits and vegetable at every meal and low fat options at home. So, I am happy that if I can't or don't want to make them lunch it will be healthy like I would make them at home. However, there are cultural sharing activities that will be lost by restricting all food related activities though-out the school.
The lunches my children eat at school are disgusting. Most of it is cold by the time they sit down to eat and not very healthy. They won't even eat corn dogs from school because they're soggy. If an adult can't even look at with gagging, why would a child want to eat it?
It's great that they are healthier, but they need to make sure that they are still foods that kids will eat. Our school has already implemented most of this. My kids won't eat the pizza because it's made with low fat cheese that is super rubbery and the other day they had sweet potato tater tots...my daughter said they tasted like over cooked carrots. I also wish they would offer bottled water along with the milk. My daughter doesn't like milk, but gets enough calcium from other foods, so she has to take the milk and doesn't get anything to drink with lunch. We don't qualify for free or reduced lunch so I have been packing their lunches most days. I can't see spending $2 on a lunch that they won't eat most of.
It's still overcooked veggies, canned fruit, and iceberg lettuce. Schools need real changes, not just "term" changes. I'm happy to see some schools doing community gardens and even the local high school has a horticulture program.
I personally feel, school lunch menus have been out of hand for way to long. When I was in school there was 1 menu choice, you ate it or brought your own. school lunches were healthy back then. It cost the school a lot less to make the lunch then it does now.
I am loving the changes. My kids qualify for free lunch and I am glad they are eating healthier.