The days of students piling tater tots or french fries on a plate and calling it lunch are over. That’s a good thing in the long run — for all of us.
With childhood obesity rates spiking higher every year, the “Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act” is designed to combat obesity while encouraging healthy eating habits in children.
Students and staff of the Cazenovia Central School District have already noticed the differences as they sat down in our school cafeterias this year.
The federal legislation, championed by First Lady Michele Obama through her “Let’s Move” health and wellness program, made significant changes to the nation’s $11 billion school lunch program.
The program’s requirements had been essentially unchanged for the past 15 years.
Students who buy lunch will be able to pick and choose from a variety of healthy options. For example, schools will now double the amount of fruits and vegetables that they serve every day of the week, serve only fat-free and low-fat milk choices and include more whole grains.
In addition, calorie limits for students have been set based on grade level. Maximum calories per served lunch are: 650 calories for grades kindergarten through fifth; 700 calories for grades sixth through eighth; and 850 calories for grades ninth through 12th.
Dieticians say that a typical teenage girl, for example, should consume about 1,800 calories per day; a typical teenage boy needs 2,200 calories.
Students will get about one-third to one-half of the calories they need every day with a school lunch. The changes that took effect in September are the first steps in a three-year plan to phase in the new standards. Changes to breakfast meals and snacks served in school will happen over the next two years.
Many parents have probably already heard from their child that the lunch program isn’t filling any more. They don’t feel satisfied.