New school lunch law means more fruits and veggies [UPDATED]Published 10:11am Monday, August 27, 2012 Updated 12:14pm Monday, August 27, 2012
By Tim Post
MPR News — 91.5 FM
Minnesota students heading back to school in a few weeks are going to notice something different about their lunches.
To meet new federal guidelines, schools across the country are required to serve up healthier lunch-time fare. That means smaller portions of meat and protein, fewer calories and a new requirement that forces students to take more fruits and vegetables.
The stricter school lunch guidelines set forth by the government have led lunch directors like Jean Ronnei of the St. Paul School District to test new lunch tray figurations.
Ronnei, the district’s director of nutrition, has spent the summer poring over recipes with her staff of dieticians.
“Fewer grains, controlled portions of meat, meat alternative, less sodium, no trans fats,” she said of the new menu.
Given such changes, it’s a sure bet that the first thing students are going to notice this fall is what’s not on their plates.
The new U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines limit student lunches to 650 calories for younger students, and 850 for those in high school.
That means smaller burgers and buns, and students can forget about topping that burger off with cheese. Another change: lunch line workers will no longer be able to toss more bread or extra rice on students’ plates to fill them up.
The new lunch is healthier, but cafeteria workers are already bracing for the inevitable calls from parents who will say their children are hungry because they’re not getting enough meat and protein.