BALTIC, SD -
New federal school lunch guidelines have given students plenty of food for thought during their first week of classes.
The new rules require them to dish-up more fruits and vegetables, while restricting salt and fat.
The government is also limiting the amount of calories students can eat. For elementary students, that means no more than 650 calories a day; for middle schoolers, no more than 700 a day; and high schoolers cannot have more than 850 a day.
The idea behind the new guidelines is to get kids to eat healthier. But some students don't find the new guidelines all that appetizing.
Adjusting to smaller, healthier lunch portions becomes an acquired taste to students in Baltic.
"I've been here since kindergarten and I've had the same thing for so long and there's this huge change. It's like big. It's hard," Baltic eighth grader Rachel Aberson said.
It's only the second lunch of the school year, but so far students aren't turning up their noses at menus that heap on the fruits and vegetables.
"I take fruit, but I'm not a big vegetable fan, though," Baltic eighth grader Zach Vaneck said.
Some students say the new meal plan lacks variety.
"For people who like ketchup with their corn dogs, you just have to eat it plain because you can't have it this year," Baltic seventh grader Brooke Van Dam said.
And cutting down on calories leaves some students, especially athletes who need that extra burst of energy, hungrier at the end of the day.
"After volleyball practice, you do get kind of hungry, but at the same time, it's better for your health if you eat less," Van Dam said.
Students say they may be more likely to brown bag it from now on since lunches prepared at home don't fall under the same federal guidelines.
"I can bring whatever I want then," Vaneck said.
Students say the slimmed-down menus will likely encourage healthier eating habits that they hope will last well beyond lunch break.
"Yeah, by the end of the school year, probably, but then over the summer, you just eat again," Van Dam said.
While the brown-baggers may have more flexibility in what they can eat, they can't have everything they want. Schools like Baltic don't allow them to drink soda with their meals.
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