Students across the nation will see a change in what is being served in their local school cafeterias this year due to new mandates by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, schools are now being required to serve larger portions of fruits and vegetables, while putting a maximum limit on the amount of protein and grains that can be served per week.
While we are in favor of increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables, the USDA is now saying that students have to take at least half a cup for it to be considered a reimbursable meal.
We have to serve more fruits and vegetables. That’s no big deal because it’s good for the students, but that they have to take it – that’s a new one.
Not only have they specified how many vegetables students will be required to take, schools now have weekly requirements for the type of vegetables they need to serve in various categories per week. Categories include dark green, red/orange, and starchy vegetables as well as beans/peas and vegetables that fall into the other category such as cauliflower, celery, mushrooms, beets and cucumbers.
At least half the grains this year must be whole grain. Next year all grains offered must meet the whole grain requirement. We have been working toward this goal for a couple of years.
One of the biggest problems we are running into with the new mandates is the maximum limit of meats and meat alternates they can serve. Meat alternates are factored into serving limits of 2 ounces per meal in the protein category and include such items as cheese, peanut butter and beans.
While there are also new regulations for breakfast, we are not yet required to follow the standards until next school year.
If you have questions concerning the new guidelines you may call the office at 325-248-2263.