What's New with School Lunches?
Posted: September 14, 2012
The yellow school buses are back on the road. Crossing guards have their signs up and the young children and teens are out of the house once again! So how does that affect food in the house? For most families with school aged children, lunch is now being eaten out of the house for five days of the week.
Lunch for some is breakfast. Depending on the age of the child, it might take a few weeks for breakfast to get on the routine schedule in the morning. For most children at school, lunch is a time of freedom. Lunch monitors try to keep that freedom intact; however, that doesn’t always happen. We know that lunch is a social hour, we only hope that children refuel their bodies to get them through the remainder of the school day.
So what does lunch look like? Some children insist that they pack their lunches; some insist that they buy school lunch. Whether they pack or buy, lunches should look the same through the eyes of a nutritionist. This school year, the nutrition guidelines have changed. The United State Department of Agriculture oversees the nutrition of school lunches. This year USDA is focusing more on whole grains, fruits, and vegetables along with low-fat or non-fat milk; and less sodium and fat.
Here is a summary of the changes:
- Maximum calories have been set for the first time
- Only 1% and skim milk are served
- Trans fats have either been eliminate or minimized
- Whole grains have been increased
- Beginning in 2014, sodium will be reduced
- To be a reimbursable meal for the school; the child must take either a fruit, vegetable or both
Once the children step off the bus or come around the corner parents and/or grandparents have numerous questions:
- How was your day?
- How much homework do you have?
- When is your next test?
Two new questions to ask are “Who did you sit with for lunch and what did you eat?”
If your child chooses to pack a lunch, take a look at the new requirements above. Does the packed lunch meet the new changes?