East Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - The new school year is around the corner for Central New York’s school districts and with it, big changes are on the menu for school lunches.
School cafeteria staffs are meeting tough new Federal nutrition standards for meals.
Parents may not be able to guarantee that their kids get fruits and vegetables at school, but school districts must. Schools are being required to offer healthier choices for students. Students must take at least one serving of fruits or vegetables. It’s not only for nutrition, it’s also so they qualify for a regular lunch price and aren’t charged a la cart, which would be more.
“If he doesn’t have what qualifies for the meal price of $1.95, they will tell him to just choose some carrots or why you don’t pick a fruit because then you’re going to get a better price. They will all encourage the students. We’re not legally supposed to say take that apple, but we’ll give them the choice of something to take,” said East Syracuse Minoa Food Service Director Nancy Kerrigan.
Districts have to offer larger serving sizes of fruits and vegetables. For instance, the petit banana ESM used to offer will now be replaced by a regular sized one.
"I think some of them might notice the grain difference because the grains have been reduced. The high school students especially may notice their pizza size shrank a little bit, but it’s all according to the new regulations,” Kerrigan said.
Kerrigan says cafeterias not only have to contend with the new regulations, but still have to try and offer the options within those boundaries that kids will eat.
“All the schools as part of the new regulations also, at the beginning of the serving line you have to have a sign to tell the students what the groups are that are being offered to them and what they can take,” Kerrigan said.
While it may sound complex, the goal is simple: to ensure school lunches are healthy and well balanced and provide students with all nutrition they need to succeed at school.
Additional standards include new restrictions on sodium, more whole grains, and age appropriate calorie limits for school lunches.