Healthier schools meals to improve childhood health is a U.S. Department of Agriculture goal for the new school year.
The USDA released the following press video regarding new school lunch regulations:
The new regulations and requirements are great news for our students! They will help The Abbey Group build on the work we are already doing to provide more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthier main dishes in our school cafeteria. Some of the New Requirements Include:
- Increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables
- Reducing the sodium in meals over the next 10 years
- Setting calorie maximums for the first time
- Increasing whole grains
- Limiting the amount of meat/meat alternatives and grains
Students will now be required to have ½ cup of fruit or vegetable on their tray for it to count as a full meal. Anything less than a full meal will be charged as individual items. We plan to offer a variety of fruits and vegetables daily to give students more options in the hopes that choosing fruits and vegetables will be easy. Schools are now limited on how much meat/meat alternate and grains that can be offered. This means that some of the main dishes may not be as large as they have been in the past. Remember, though, there will be more fruits and vegetables available to fill out the meal and ensure students have plenty to eat! In The Abbey Group, we have already made the changes to meet the new requirements.
What We Are Already Doing:
- Fresh fruit and vegetables are served every day.
- Sandwiches are served on whole wheat buns.
- All pasta served is whole grain.
- Main dishes have been changed to include lower sodium options.
- Dark green and orange vegetables are served on a weekly basis.
- Dried beans have been incorporated into some of the recipes.
- Salad bars are available every day that include romaine lettuce and spinach.
We’ll face some challenges to meet the new requirements on a tight budget, but our school nutrition program will work hard to make these healthy changes for our students and make each meal something our students will enjoy!
How Can You Help?
The food in the cafeteria is only one piece of the puzzle of an overall healthy school environment. Health and wellness can be incorporated into classroom activities through nutrition education and short physical activity breaks. Give parents the opportunity to support healthy behaviors with suggestions for healthy class party snacks and provided with wellness information that they can utilize with their families. The school nutrition program needs the support of school staff to succeed! You are a powerful role model for your students and this is a fabulous opportunity to model healthy choices. Whether you join your students for lunch or make time to talk with them about the food they eat at school, taking an interest in the school meal programs will demonstrate that you are aware of and supportive of the changes that the students will be seeing.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us. We are here to help!