Schools Cook-Up New Lunch Federal Guidelines
By Nadia Crow, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Cafeteria workers at schools across the country are serving up food under new federal guidelines. The USDA has made sweeping changes that affect what kids eat at school. The goal is to tackle the growing childhood obesity epidemic.
Now, students must take a half cup of fruit or vegetables. The new menu has more whole-grains, skim and low-fat milk, and no trans fat and less saturated fat- which means the meat is more often baked or grilled, rather than fried.
We've heard plenty about kids exercising more and not living sedentary lifestyles. But many health experts say, it really goes back to what kids are putting in their bodies.
Lunchtime at Prairie Heights Elementary School looks a whole lot healthier this year.
"Apple sauce, chicken patty,” said second grader Brock Tiedeman.
Second grader Brock Tiedeman eats lunch with his parents Wednesday.
"It reinforces what they're learning at home and what they're eating at home,” said Parent Matt Shaffer.
3,500 College Community students rely on school lunch every day. Some of them will eat the healthier options, others will not.
“They understand there may be some food wasted or more than we've seen in the past but as they get used to it maybe then they might eat it,” said College Community School District Food Services Director Julie Hauser.
And since they all have to take it...
"The first couple of days we've had no idea really what amounts we were going to use. We were having then to find something else to serve,” said Hauser.
Cafeteria staff say they're surprised at just how much kids ARE eating.
"Probably peas and carrots,” said Tiedeman about his favorite vegetables.
Along with increasing the nutritional value of school lunches, the new rules regulate just how much kids can eat. So that means no seconds or larger portions for a beefy student athlete.
"For a high school student that's in practice after school, for them to only get a certain number of calories, I have conflicting ideas on that,” said Hauser.
Also at the high school level, the new guidelines regulate junk food in vending machines. If you're thinking about the dollar sign attached to mandating every kid take fruit or vegetables, the federal government did give school an extra six cents per meal. But many districts estimate that won't cover the total costs.
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