Increase in Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains; Board Adopts New Policy Regulation on Meal Charges
In order to comply with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s federal regulations to update meal patterns and nutrition standards for school lunches and breakfasts, the Allegany County Public School System’s Food and Nutrition Services Department has implemented various healthy modifications beginning this school year.
In January of 2011, the USDA published a proposed rule to update the meal patterns and nutrition standards for the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program to align them with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The intent of the rule is “to provide nutrient-dense meals that better meet the dietary needs of school children and protect their health.”
Some of the changes for the public school system include an increase in fruits and vegetables, vegetables categorized in subgroups, an increase in whole grain-rich foods, and sodium, saturated fats, and calorie specifications at targeted baselines. Additionally, sandwiches will not be offered on a daily basis so as not to exceed the grain requirement nor will school-made rolls at the elementary level.
Sodium needs to be at a targeted baseline under the new regulations. According to the Assistant Supervisor of Food and Nutrition Services, Todd Lutton, “When the Maryland State Department of Education conducted a review of our food service in May; our sodium exceeded the targeted baseline by 600 mg. It was then that we made the decision, at the recommendation of MSDE, to serve condiments in portion-controlled packets and limit the amount given to students.” The school system is now serving condiments, including ketchup and ranch dressing in packets only, with other condiments being offered in squeeze bottles. Ketchup and ranch were the two condiments that were being over-consumed by students.
In addition to the limits on grains, regulations also call for a limit on meats. For this reason, Manager’s Choices can no longer be offered so as to abide by the maximum and minimum levels for these two food groups. Fat free milk is also being offered to students in the public schools as well as 1% milk. If all requirements are met by the school system, an additional $0.06 per lunch will be awarded. Additional regulations will be established in upcoming years.
Other changes happening with regards to the school system’s food and nutrition services department include a new policy regulation on student meal charges. As a method of managing a subsidy from the school board’s operating budget, student debt is attempting to be controlled by only allowing students to charge a total of five meals before a substitute meal is served. Substitute meals are not served to students qualifying for a free lunch.
Parents are also reminded that applications for the Free and Reduced Meal program are due October 9, 2012. The Allegany County Public School System receives $3,279 for every student that qualifies for a free or reduced lunch. If students are eligible, or even think they may be eligible, parents are encouraged to complete the application regardless of whether a child intends to participate in the program. Applications are available by clicking here. For more information, call 301-876-9202.