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Latest Changes To School Lunches

January 9, 2013, 6:14 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Latest Changes To School Lunches

Many parents and students have been critical of the Federal government’s new requirements for school lunches. Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is responding to that criticism by allowing schools more leeway in what they put into kids' meals.

Taylor Nelson and Kenzie Hoffman enjoy their time in the school lunchroom, but whether they enjoy their school food is still up for debate.

"I think they're good. They're nice and healthy now," Nelson said.

"[They should] bring back the normal ranches and food because that would make me eat salad more," Hoffman said.

While fat-free ranch still is on the table, the USDA is allowing other changes.

Even though schools can now change the amount of meats and grains they serve, they still have to meet the same calorie limits.

"When you're planning, no matter if you could add more meat or whole grains to the meal pattern, are you able to do it within the calorie limits that you're working with?,"  Sioux Falls School District Child Nutrition Supervisor Joni Davis said.

For Sioux Falls Public Schools the answer is no. The schools already serve as many calories as possible. But school officials are trying other changes to entice students to eat healthier.

"We're looking at the way and method we serve things; trying to make things more user-friendly, like peeled oranges and sectioned apples and things like that to help kids, so they'll be able to eat something quick for the noon period and as easy as possible." Davis said.

While Sioux Falls students won't see more meats and grains on their plates, that isn't the case for other South Dakota schools. According to the state office of Child & Adult Nutrition Services, some districts like the new flexibility and now will be able to use different sizes of buns and meat.

Whether or not the USDA decision makes a difference in individual districts, school officials have the same goal.

"We want kids to be successful and healthy adults who can meet the challenges ahead in their lifetimes. We know good health is a way to do that," Davis said.

The Sioux Falls School District is now one of more than 40 districts in the state that has its meals certified. That means the school is reimbursed six cents per meal by the Federal government for meeting all of the new federal guidelines.

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