Archimedean Students but also Students Across the Nation Will See a Change in What is Being Served in School Cafeterias
The changes have caused us to have to revamp the way we do meal planning for our Schools.
Under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, in an effort to reduce obesity in the United States, 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 number of fruits and vegetables, the USDA is now mandating 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.
For example, not only have they specified how much 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 artichokes, asparagus, avocado, cauliflower, celery, mushrooms, beets, and cucumbers.
One of the biggest problems we are running into with the new mandates is the maximum limit of meats and meat alternates we can serve. Meat and 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.
Where last year we were instructed only on minimum quantities to be served, this year we are also instructed on maximum quantities to be served.
For example, we were serving over 3 ounces of meat and 1 ounce of cheese on our sandwiches, now that same sandwich would have to have 1 1/2 ounces of meat and 1/2 ounce of cheese under the new requirements.
To some of us, it may seem that 2 ounces are not a lot of protein, especially for a growing high school student. For K-8 grades, the protein limit has been set to 1 ounce of protein per meal.
We can no longer serve things like baked chicken because the servings sizes are too big. Grains served should be by more than 50% whole grains and in limited quantities.
We are hoping that the families understand that a lot of this is no longer in our hands.
We are working with our chef to make these new mandates as adaptable for our students as possible while implementing new recipes that will not only taste good but also meet the standards for the USDA.
Please see hereafter the portion size requirements by USDA following the mandates of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.