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Healthier Lunches Will be Part of Back to School This Year

New federal rules will require more fruits, vegetables, along with calorie limits.

As kids head back to school this week they’ll see more than just new books and teachers in their classrooms. For the first time, they’ll be seeing healthier hot lunches. 

Under rules that take affect this year in federally-subsidized public school lunch programs, the federal government is for the first time imposing calorie and sodium limits on school lunch offerings and requiring schools to offer students more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

The new rules, established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, represent the first changes in public school lunch programs in 15 years. The calorie and sodium limits imposed under the new guidelines are based on a student’s age.

The changes are part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and are part of an overall effort to make federally subsidized school hot lunches healthier for kids and help reduce a growing obesity problem in the country.

The new requirements include:

  • Age-appropriate calorie limits and portion sizes;
  • Larger servings of vegetables and fruits (students must take at least one serving of produce with their school lunch)
  • A wider variety of vegetables, including dark green and red/orange vegetables and legumes
  • Fat-free or 1 percent milk (flavored milk must be fat-free)
  • Reduced sodium content

Officials with the School Nutrition Association of Connecticut said they applaud the federal school lunch changes, but added that some districts in Connecticut were already trying to make their lunches healthier before the new rules were passed.

“While these standards will be seen in schools nationwide for the first time this fall, many Connecticut school districts have already begun these efforts,” said Susan Maffe, President of SNACT. “We continue to proactively work to offer additional opportunities for healthier and nutritious lunches and are committed to ensuring a higher quality of nutritional standards than ever before as well as empowering students to make a healthier change.”

Marcia Patterson August 28, 2012 at 11:45 AM
They really ought to work on improving the quality and flavor of the food as well. I visited my children during lunch last year and was shocked to find the meal of the day was practically inedible!
Mr D. August 30, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Some things never change; the food was just as bad when I was in school over 30 years ago!
Carl Kolchak August 30, 2012 at 03:40 PM
I don't know what company is responsible for the school lunches in Monroe (is it Sodhexo?), but they have always been terrible, at least for the last decade or so. Does their contract expire any time soon?
fairfield newcomer August 30, 2012 at 04:41 PM
And did you begin making your children's lunches when you discovered they were practically inedible, of course not, you'd rather complain than fix them lunch, too busy commenting on the patch.
Marcia Patterson August 30, 2012 at 04:46 PM
In answer to that, YES of course, they have not bought a single school lunch since. As I said, I was shocked to discover the poor quality. Had I known, I would never have let them purchase hot lunch in the first place.
Marcia Patterson August 30, 2012 at 04:51 PM
I don't know about Monroe, but it is "Chartwell" up here in Bethany (last I knew). When my kids were in the magnet school in Danbury, they had much better food, but even then they only bought it once per week.
Marcia Patterson August 30, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Apparently they had Sodhexo in Danbury (so my daughter just informed me) so yours is probably somewhat better than Chartwell, if that's any comfort :P
Carl Kolchak August 30, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Yep. Sodexo here in Monroe. Cold and grey.

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