Zach Stich/Daily Journal: Fergus Falls sixth-grade students line up for lunch Monday. The school district will be moving toward healthy school lunches in the 2012-13 school year.

Archived Story

School lunches to feature fresh fruits, veggies

Published 10:47am Tuesday, May 1, 2012 Updated 11:21am Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Come next fall, students who typically get canned peaches and green beans on their plates will see fresh varieties. And they will no longer have the option of not taking them.

With childhood obesity tripling in the last 30 years, schools across the nation will be moving towards a new federally mandated school lunch.

The new school menu will require fresh fruits and vegetables and more whole grain products on each tray.

In the Fergus Falls School District, the move will happen next school year. The school board has already discussed the price increase for next year as each school lunch will be raised by 10 cents. The breakfast menu will not change next year, but it is expected to get a tweak in the near future.

The new program will not be met without some drawbacks, one of which is the amount of time it will take to prepare the new menu.

“We are in here at 6 a.m. and the food is usually ready to be satellited to the other schools by 9:30 a.m.,” Cafeteria Manager Becky Shearer. “The new menu will take more time to prepare for every school.”

Shearer went on to say that the school does offer fresh fruit and vegetables on occasion, but typically uses canned or frozen food.

Currently, students are not required to take either fruit or vegetables with their meal, but next year they will have to choose between one or the other. Shearer expects that more of the food will go to waste as the move does not require them to eat what is on their plates.

At Kennedy Secondary School, the normal school lunch is just an option for students. There is also an a la carte lunch line that offers pizza, cheeseburgers, chicken fingers, slushies and other foods that stray from the new menu. Several high school students who were interviewed said they prefer the variety that the a la carte line gives and the name-brand fast food that is served.

During Monday’s sixth grade lunch period, several students passed up the opportunity for fruit and vegetables, while it was nearly a 50/50 split on which lunch line they chose to eat from.

Will fresh fruit and vegetables change the perception of school lunches next year? Parents and school officials alike will have to wait and see

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