Home > eat, food cost > Attention Parents … School Lunch is changing!

Attention Parents … School Lunch is changing!

August 27th, 2012

For the first time in 15 years there are major changes in school lunches that will result in healthier meals for kids. What’s changing? The new school meals will contain more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; low-fat or non-fat milk; and less sodium and fat. The meals will also be “right sized”– portion sizes will be based on a student’s age.the school day just got healthier

The most economical meal at school is the full meal, also called the reimbursable meal. A reimbursable meal includes at least three of the five components (meat or meat alternate, fluid milk, grains, fruits, and vegetables). One of the components must be a fruit or vegetable for the meal to count as a full meal and qualify the school to get some of the costs for the meal reimbursed.

High schools and an increasing number of middle and elementary schools have “Offer versus Serve”. This helps reduce waste by not making students take food that they don’t like or won’t eat and also provides more choices. However, students will now be required to have 1/2 cup of fruit or vegetable on their tray for it to count as a full meal. If the tray doesn’t have the fruit or vegetable component, students will be charged separately for each item on their tray (called ala carte) which is much more expensive.

Parents need to discuss lunch choices with their child so the bill for student meals isn’t a surprise….or even better go to school and eat with your kids.

Schools are doing their part by offering healthier foods. Now, we need to support the effort by encouraging children to give the healthier meals a try. Here are some new resources to help educate parents and kids on the meal changes:

What are your thoughts on these changes?

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  1. | #1

    This is awesome news! Our schools have a long way to go but at least they’re on the right track, kinda.

  2. Rue
    | #2

    Unfortunately the “healthier” lunch at our son’s high school is a failure. The cost of the meal has increased (full meal, not ala carte). The serving size is so small athletes and boys, who need more calories, are forced to buy more than one meal, the second being even more expensive than the first. Many students are choosing to use their free hour to go to local fast food restaurants to get more food for the same cost. The fruit/vegetable offered is the same old canned fare the students have been rejecting for years. Now it just goes in the waste can. When the fruit/vegetable choice is “fresh” it is under-ripe (ex-rock hard kiwi) or old (ex-dried out baby carrots, wilted lettuce). Much more needs to be improved. For now, our son is carrying his own lunch.

  3. | #3

    I’m hearing a lot of talk from concerned parents of athletes who need more calories. Serving sizes too small for kids in most high school sports. Some kids struggling with two-a-day practices and these small meals. Only solution will be to send more food to school with student athlets. Instead of reducing serving sizes, focus should be on increasing healthy activity of students.

  4. Paednoch
    | #4

    This is a failure. Calorie caps have taken its toll on my underweight son. Kids in sports are passing out at practice due to too small of portions. Our middle school has seen a massive increase in cold lunches. Yesterday 75% of the school brought their own lunch. If the trend continues the school is going to have a tough time paying for expenses if only a handful of reduced meal kids are footing the bill.

  5. Kmk
    | #5

    The lunches are so poor that the kids can’t get enough to eat to keep their minds tended to their school work. My high school son is buying double lunes plus snacks (over $6.00 every day)and is still hungry. Growing kids need food for their minds and body. My daughter is taking her lunch everyday and says kids are bring junk for lunch cause the food is so bad and not enough. So how is that going to help the fat problem? Kids aren’t getting fat on school lunches especially when this is the only thing they have to eat from 8 am until practice is over at 5 or 6. Give them either more food so they can eat and focus. Thank you!

    @Rue

  6. Rod Smith
    | #6

    This new meal plan has two components, switching cost to feed our kids onto the parents under the misguided good feeling that somthing can be done to cure child hood obesity and diabetes ie(poor parenting). Last year my child ate 2 breakfast and 3 lunch’s just to get through the day without starving. This new lunch plan does not take into account that most kids are growing and need the additional callories and with out those calories, the lunches are actually unhealthy. My two kids are athletes and this lunch plan is harmful to their health and we as parents will have to pay the extra to get them the food they need as what this plan is designed for.

  7. lunch lady
    | #7

    I sub in our schools lunch room. Our main cook was pulling her hair out trying to figure new meals for this year…well I have eaten a couple of these meals…no taste to them, it is sad too. When there was left over buns we would use them the next day for peanut butter sandwhiches for the kids…they loved them, not any more! No little bar of cookie on their tray either. No salt, pepper and barely any ketchup. BUT wait they can buy seconds of this wonderful food! An entree is just .75 at our school and alot do buy this, but the other day I worked with 4-6 graders and 9 out of 10 that came back for seconds were already over weight. So how does this system work for making kids healthy? Its not the school food that makes a child over weight, come on big goverment…
    Yes many kids are bringing extra food or their own lunch now too.

  8. Jodi Terry
    | #8

    I am a parent of 4 children….twins in 7th grade….2 in high school. They are starving everyday when they come home from school….so now they are eating even more snacks at home before dinner….and many times, don’t want to eat dinner now. This has never been the case now! This is totally unacceptable!! I am a single mother, am struggling with being recently laid off, I am NOT getting food stamps, and am forced to send my kids with even more food from our home to supplement the lunches!! AND…parents are in for a shock with the price!! Our school charges DOUBLE for the meal if the child refuses to take veggies or fruit because they told the lunch ladies they just don’t likie them and would throw them out!! Our lunch ladies hate giving out this food! They know where it goes….80% or more they told me is in the trash! Obama has even put rice cakes in the vending machines! The same ones are still there from last year! Kids aren’t stupid….they are buying snacks at the local quick-trip before coming in….they are bringing stuff from home! Football players and others that stay late should not be starving!! Protein has been shrunk…..they can’t put anything on their food except about a quarter size amount of ranch dressing or ketchup! My 12 yr old twins have taken a petition to their school….I hope others follow!!! We don’t need government telling us how to feed our children! This is supposed to be ONE meal a day! It won’t kill the kids to enjoy their food while in school…!!!! On the good side…..he just turned our lunch ladies into Republicans!!!! GOOOO MITT!!!!!!

  9. Stu
    | #9

    Jodi, my wife is the district chef at DCG and the lunch ladies don’t know who you are. They don’t appreciate you making things up. They are proud of the food they serve at DCG and they can take either fruits, vegetables or both. The lunch ladies have to monitor the fruits because they can have as much as 1 1/2 cup but no more than that and kids do try to take more. They do not weigh their trash nor are they wasting very much. Quit dissing a program that is working quite well and has the support of the teachers, students and parents. My wife has received many compliments about how good the food is.

  10. peggym
    | #10

    I certainly am not criticizing school lunch. I am very supportive of the efforts to improve the nutrition of the meals served at school.

    I think you are mistaken about restrictions on the amount of fruits and vegetables that kids can take. There is no restriction on fruits and vegetables at the federal level. However schools may limit fruits and vegetables and provide only the amounts required.

  11. Stu
    | #11

    You are correct Peggy but that is all the school system can afford. The kids overwhelmingly select fruits which are expensive, especially when they have fresh strawberries.

  12. | #12

    It’s a good thing, I believe kids should be eating more healthy food. Everyday hamburgers can’t be good.

  13. | #13

    This should be implemented in any school cafeteria regardless of age group.

  14. hradek
    | #14

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