Schools Plan Healthy Meals Under New Federal Guidelines

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

When your children go back to school in a couple weeks, they'll be getting a more nutritious meal, one that also costs more.

It's part of newly enacted federal guidelines meant to combat childhood obesity.

School nutrition programs across the country are undergoing major changes in time for the school year. The changes aim to give students the well-balanced meals they need and encourage them to develop healthy eating habits long-term.

An example of last year's typical school lunch would have included: a piece of pizza, marinara sauce, raisins, a banana and whole milk.

But this year, students may see a fuller, greener tray with foods including: two servings of vegetables, fruit, a chef salad, whole wheat grains and low fat milk.

The director of food service for the Wausau School District says it's been a huge undertaking changing the meal plans, but one she thinks is worthwhile.

"We want our young adults, our children to be healthy," Roxi Sladek said. "To lead productive lives down the road and this change is really important because of that and for that reason."

Changing the meal plans does come with challenges. First, nutritious foods are more expensive so parents will have to pay more for lunch.

At the Wausau School District, that's $0.10 more per meal. Lunch at the high schools will be $2.40, at the middle schools it will cost $2.15 and at the elementary level lunch will cost $1.95.

The price increase is worth it to some parents.

"I'd pay the ten cents more. For my kids health, I'd pay the ten cents," said Barbara Grell.

The other challenge is picky eaters. In particular, elementary children may not have been exposed to options like whole wheat bread and may need to adjust.

Sladek says they'll work with students to find meals that are both nutritious and satisfying.

"As we try new products, as we try new recipes it's really gonna be important that we get their input," said Sladek.

Schools are also required to limit the levels of saturated fat, sodium and trans fat.

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