High-calorie sports drinks and candy bars are supposed to be removed from school vending machines and cafeteria lines nationwide this school year, and replaced with diet drinks, granola bars and other healthier items.
In June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said for the first time it will make sure all foods sold in the nation’s 100,000 schools are healthier by increasing fat, calorie and sodium restrictions for almost everything sold during the school day.
This will include snacks sold around the school and foods on the “a la carte” line in cafeterias, which have never been regulated before. The new rules were proposed last February and were made final in the middle of June.
First Lady Michelle Obama and President Obama helped to enact the Hunger Free Kids Act in 2010 to make changes to the National School Lunch and Breakfast program.
Here in Lincoln County, Terry Olson, the kitchen manager at Lincoln County High School has all the menus approved and certified for the coming school year. Students will begin seeing whole grain tortillas, brown rice, sweet potato French fries, spinach, whole grain buns, and other such items.
Olson, along with Rachel Hosier in Alamo, admit they have been somewhat overwhelmed, and a bit frustrated with the new changes, as the “costs of these new foods is a tremendous increase,” and the additional reimbursement rate they have supplemented does not nearly cover the difference.
Another frustration that both schools face is kids don’t usually like what is having to be served to them now, including oatmeal in the breakfast program, “and will just go to the local gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants to get what they want,” Olson said, “It is like simply pouring our money and food down the drain.”
Sarah Somers, who assists in the food service administration for the Lincoln County School District said, “This coming year compared to last year is quite remarkable. Overall, this is great. Kids should eat healthy, and they should learn to eat healthy at a young age.
“It makes sense, it’s not a bad thing for parents or kids. However it is quite frustrating for the kitchen staff to see kids throwing away their sweet potato French fries, vegetable cups, etc., because they don’t like them. It is in fact healthier, but it may not be what the kids will eat, and in addition, it is a financial burden to the food service program in the district that is already on a tight budget.”
Parents are invited to call Somers at the district office with any further questions. Her number is 775-728-4471.