South-Western City Schools
More healthful lunch options meet new guidelines
South-Western City Schools are offering students more-healthful choices for lunch as part of an effort to meet new and tougher federal guidelines.
The effort to offer students more-nutritional lunches has been under way in the district for several years, Food Services Supervisor Beth Glitt said.
"Our meals are ahead of the curve," she said.
"We've been working on this for a long time," both in preparation for the tougher guidelines and as part of the district's overall goal of providing students healthful meals to help them succeed and be well, Glitt said.
The additional standards in effect for the 2012-13 school year include:
* Age-appropriate calorie limits.
* Less sodium.
* Offering fat-free or 1 percent milk only.
"We're still offering students the choice of flavored milk, but they are non-fat or skim milk only," Glitt said.
In addition, students are offered larger servings of fruits and vegetables, a wider variety of vegetables and more whole grains.
"The serving size for fruits and vegetables has increased while the serving size of grains has decreased," Glitt said.
The lunch menus now include more sweet potatoes, black beans, chickpeas and dark-green leafy vegetables, she said.
Students still are required to choose three out of the five food types offered daily: grains, milk, protein, fruit and vegetable.
"The difference this year is that students must choose a fruit or a vegetable every day," Glitt said.
Starting this year, 51 percent of the grains offered to students must be whole-grain rich, she said.
In two years, 100 percent of the grains will have to be whole-grain rich, she said.
Students still are offered some of their favorite menu items -- they are just more healthful, she said. For example, pizza now includes a whole-grain crust, low-fat cheese and reduced sodium, Glitt said.
With school just starting, it's too early to tell if students are having a negative reaction to the menu changes, she said.
But many students likely don't even realize the pizza or pasta they're eating is whole-grain, and many of them are used to black beans from eating at popular restaurants such as Chipotle, Glitt said.
"One of the other major changes in our menu is that we no longer serve deep-fried foods," she said.
The menu changes have not affected the cost of school lunches, Glitt said.