Farmington School District 192 deals with lunch changes“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” It’s an old phrase everyone has heard at one time or another. But in Farmington schools this year, it could be slightly skewed to, “An apple a day keeps the pounds away.”
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
It’s an old phrase everyone has heard at one time or another. But in Farmington schools this year, it could be slightly skewed to, “An apple a day keeps the pounds away.”
That’s the intent with the new school lunch program that went into effect at the beginning of the school year. Driven largely by the USDA’s new requirements, every student in Farmington schools should get an apple – or at least one serving of a fruit or vegetable – during every school meal.
The new federal regulations are meant to address childhood obesity, according to Peggy Anderberg, director of food services for Chartwells food service. Planning for the new school menus took the better part of three months, she said, because the federal government refined its requirements several times over the summer months.
One of the most notable changes to the menu is the requirement that every student must have a fruit or vegetable on his or her plate, and tomatoes or lettuce on sandwiches do not fill the bill. Additionally, the weekly menus are required to include specific amounts of different types of fruits and vegetables – like red and orange vegetables, dark green greens and so on.
The menu has also been narrowed to include specific amounts of grains and proteins. The idea is to provide students with age-appropriate, nutritional meals that meet the energy needs of the specific age groups. In order to meet those grain requirements, Chartwells has developed its own whole grain pizza crust, as well as whole grain rolls, muffins, pancakes, waffles and cereals.
Portion control is part of the calorie count measures put into place through the guidelines, too. The 12-inch wraps used at the high school in the past have been replaced by eight-inch wraps. Menu items are also being rewritten to use kosher salt rather than iodized salt with the intent to lower the sodium content students receive.
“It’s been a very complex process,” Anderberg said.
Chartwells has taken several steps to educate families on the changes this year, she said. Chartwells representatives were at open house events at all of the schools. The education portion is important for both kids and parents, particularly thanks to the fruit or vegetable requirement.
Under the USDA’s guidelines, every meal must include at least a half-cup serving of fruits or vegetables. If the student chooses not to take the item, the food on their tray does not count as a meal and they are charged ala carte prices.
“You can’t make a student take something. We can suggest it, and that’s what we need to do,” Anderberg said. “In that sense, it’s really up to the parents to monitor their accounts.”
As the school year progresses, Chartwells plans to do events to get students interested in trying new, healthy kinds of meals. At the elementary schools, the company already does something called “Chef’s Table,” where students are taught about new foods and then try them. The program has introduced unusual vegetables like rutabagas and parsnips to younger students with great success.
“If you put it on the menu the next day, you get them excited about food. Now fruits and vegetables are going to be our focus. It’s not new, it’s just new that now they have to have one of those things to make a meal,” Anderberg said.