Schools Putting Healthier Lunch Options into Action

By , SparkPeople Blogger
As you know, earlier this year First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the new National School Lunch Program nutrition standards. Since more students eat school lunch compared to school breakfast, schools first started to implement the new standards with school lunches.
Perhaps your family has incorporated tips that help you pack a nutrient-rich lunch for your children to take to school. Hopefully you have found a month worth of fun and healthy lunch ideas your children enjoy to help take the hassle out of packing school lunches. However, if you have a teenager like mine who doesn't want anything to do with packed lunches anymore, selecting a school lunch may be part of his or her daily routine.
It seems many school districts did major overhauls of their school lunch menu offerings over the summer to improve the nutritional quality offered to students this school year. I know there are many new changes in our son's school. Here is a sample of the types of new school lunch offerings popping up in school districts around the country.

The Hillsborough County Public School District in Tampa, Florida, is serving familiar "home-cooked" entrees in addition to new vegetarian options. The district's Student Nutrition Services department has incorporated a weekly sampling program to introduce students to new fresh fruit and vegetable recipes. Additionally, wider varieties of vegetables are offered through use of locally sourced seasonal produce. Student lunch prices are $2.25 for elementary students and $2.75 for middle and high school students.
Knox County Schools in Tennessee will be offering whole-grain biscuits and pizza crusts this year as well as sneaking some sweet potato puree into their tomato sauce to extend the nutrition. The School Nutrition and Food Services staff is not only offering a variety of fruits and vegetables, they are making sure students take the required servings at check out time as well. Since they are providing 100 percent juices, those can be selected as a fruit serving too. Student prices for lunch in this district this year are $2.50 for K-5 students and $2.75 for students in grades 6-12.
Seattle Public Schools in Washington are excited to be offering hormone-free, 1 percent unflavored milk and fat-free flavored milk as well as water and 100 percent fruit/vegetable juices as their healthy drink options. Since it is now required that students take a fruit or vegetable for lunches to count as a full meal, they will be keeping fresh options front and center. The district’s Nutrition Services department has created a terrific video to help families understand the new guidelines as well as the nutrition education reasoning behind them. Families can also find readily available education resource links to help their students learn to love new options like a whole grain bean and cheese burrito or a veggie burger on a whole grain bun. Elementary students will pay $2.75 for lunch with middle and high school students paying $3.00 per lunch. 

As outlined in the National School Lunch Program, "Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals. Those with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reducedĀ]price meals, for which students can be charged no more than 40 cents. (For the period July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2013, 130 percent of the poverty level is $29,965 for a family of four; 185 percent is $42,643.)"

What do you think about these new changes and there nutritional benefits? Do you believe this will help students improve their BMI by the end of the school year? Tell us about some of the healthy changes you are seeing at your child's school.