The North Bend Eagle


 

Feds pass down new rules on what kids can eat for school lunch

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 7/4/12

Deb Kavan hadn’t yet recovered from the three-day meeting in Kearney.

“More paperwork, more planning on what to have,” Kavan said. “My head is still spinning.”

Kavan, who serves as head of food services at North Bend Central, learned more about the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010” that will be affecting the lunch program at the high school and elementary school this coming school year.

The school receives federal and state reimbursement that help keep costs down for offering meals meeting federal requirements. The student will not be charged more or less if they take three or five of the components offered in the hopes that they will eat what they take.

“Children have to take a vegetable or fruit on their plate in order for it to be a reimbursed meal,” Kavan said.

A fruit and vegetable has to be offered at every meal, and each child has to have one on his or her plate. A staff person who checks trays at the end of the line is required to see that each tray contains at least three of the five food components with one component being at least a full serving of fruit or vegetable.

NBCPS has a “offer vs. serve” service in that they offer all five food components but can serve students fewer.

“If we don’t get our reimbursements, meals would be a lot more expensive,” Kavan said. “There is no way we could feed a child on $2.45 (the cost students pay for meals at NBCPS) a day.”

Kavan said that the student will not be monitored to see if they eat the fruits and vegetables– the fruits and vegetables just have to be on each tray.

The fruits and vegetables can be fresh, frozen or canned. Kavan said that the elementary students have to have 2.5 cups of fruits a week and 3.75 cups of vegetables. For the high school students those numbers are 5 cups for each.

Fewer grains such as pasta, bread and rice will be offered. Of those offered, 51 percent must be whole grain. Next school year that number rises to 100 percent.

That requirement doesn’t present a problem to the NBCPS food service, Kavan said, as it makes most of their bread and food from scratch.

Though students have always been offere fruits and vegtibles at both schools, including a salad bar, the food service will now be required to offer more variety.

“We have been doing this but now we have to serve all of the sub-catagories of vegetables: dark greens, red, orange, legumes, starchy and others,” Kavan said. “Iceberg lettuce will have to be offered with another lettuce. We’ll have to change a little.”

Signs detailing what students need to eat must also be posted.

Kavan, who has served as chairman of the District Food Service Employees for two years, said that they have known the changes were coming for a couple of years.

“We’ve been working toward it,” she said. “Next year breakfast will get an overhaul.”

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