New, healthier school lunches are drawing mixed reviews from students in L’Anse Creuse Public Schools.
Schools nationwide altered menus for the 2012-13 year to fit federal guidelines aimed at trimming the fat from school meals.
While some students are tolerating the lunch changes, some younger LCPS students are throwing their vegetables in the trash, said Teresa Arnold, Sodexo school services general manager.
Chesterfield Elementary student Morgan Freshney said she sees unwanted foods, such as baked and refried beans, abandoned in the trash at her school.
“They give you vegetables every time you get lunch now," the fifth-grader said. “(Some students say) our cafeteria wastes all the food because no one really eats it.”
But High School North freshman Tim Doto said he buys lunch at school every day and thinks the changes have improved school lunches since last year.
“I have no complaints about the attempts to make portions healthier,” Doto said. “I usually would get fruit on the side of my lunch throughout my days in school.”
U.S. Department of Agriculture standards implemented this year are designed to improve students’ health and nutrition by:
- Offering fruits and vegetables daily
- Offering more whole grains
- Limiting calories and portion sizes
- Reducing sodium and saturated fat levels in school meals
Still, Freshney said she and some classmates prefer the old school lunches.
“(Some students say) they wish it was like last year and they don’t like it anymore,” she said. “They got rid of the cheese-stuffed (pizza) crust. Everyone likes the crust from last year.”
Despite the changes, Arnold said the district this year has served about the same number of meals as last year.
Doto added, “Most people get lunch, more so than those that bring their own – at least in my lunch period.”
Next year’s school lunch changes
The USDA school meal standards will be phased in during the next few years.
Arnold noted the following changes to school meals coming next year:
- All grains will be whole grain rich
- Frozen fruit with no added sugar will be offered
- Changes to breakfasts will require certain amounts of grains and at least one cup of fruit per day
- New requirements for competitive foods, foods sold during meal periods and a la carte sales
USDA provides funding to help schools meet standards
Michigan schools will get nearly $333,500 in funding to help them meet meal requirements, provide nutrition education and extend training to foodservice professionals, the USDA announced Sept. 14.
The “team nutrition training grants” will also help structure cafeterias in a way that encourages students to select healthy foods.
The grants are available Sept. 30, 2012 through Sept. 30, 2014 and are funded through the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, according to the USDA press release.
The Agriculture Department plans to distribute a total of $5.2 million to 18 states and U.S. territory Guam.