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Berkley School District Offers Healthier Lunches

New United States Department of Agriculture requirements for midday meals served in public school cafeterias will mean less sodium, more fruits and veggies and no more Jet's Pizza Day.

Schools nationwide are serving healthier lunches this year and buildings in the are no exception.

Like other districts across the country, they have implemented new guidelines set by the United States Department of Agriculture and effective July 1 that aim to improve the quality of school lunches by increasing their nutritional value.

"The changes in the cafeterias this year are concerned with meeting the new federal requirements and we are working towards making those changes as smooth as possible," BSD Aramark Food Service Director LaVon Larson said.

Aramark provides food service for the district.

School lunches are separated into five components – meats/meat alternates, grains, fruits, vegetables and milk – under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. A student must take three of the five components for it to be considered a meal, and one of those components must be at least one serving of a fruit or vegetable.

Berkley School District students will notice menu changes including the following, which Larson outlined in a letter to parents.

  • More whole grains will be available.
  • Students must take at least 1/2 cup of fruit or vegetable each day.
  • Flavored milk will only be available as fat-free or skim, but unflavored or white milk may be skim or 1 percent.
  • Fewer desserts will be offered, as the new nutrition standards focus on obtaining calories and other key nutrients from fruits, vegetables, protein foods, grains and milk.

[Do your students like the lunch lineup changes? Leave a comment!]

"While the selections we offer may sound the same because they are 'kid-favorites,' we want you to know that many of the recipes have been modified to reduce fats, salt and sugar, and to add whole grains," Larson wrote.

She added that the district no longer will hold Day, because the pizza does not meet the new nutritional requirements.

The USDA rules regulate the minimum and maximum amounts of certain meal components that schools can give to each student:

Kindergarten-Grade 5:

  • Fruits: 1/2 cup minimum per day
  • Vegetables: 3/4 cup minimum per day
  • Grains: 8-9 ounces per week
  • Meats/meat alternates: 8-10 ounces per week
  • Calories: 550-650 calories per lunch
  • Trans fat: 0 trans fat

Grades 6-8:

  • Fruits: 1/2 cup minimum per day
  • Vegetables: 3/4 cup minimum per day
  • Grains: 8-10 ounces per week
  • Meats/meat alternates: 9-10 ounces per week
  • Calories: 600-700 calories per lunch
  • Trans fat: 0 trans fat

Grades 9-12:

  • Fruits: 1 cup minimum per day
  • Vegetables: 1 cup minimum per day
  • Grains: 10-12 ounces per week
  • Meats/meat alternates: 10-12 ounces per week
  • Calories: 750-850 calories per lunch
  • Trans fat: 0 trans fat

In a presentation Monday to the Berkley School District Board of Education (see attached PDF), Larson said Aramark will work to address some challenges related to the new regulations, including keeping costs down, meeting students' taste preferences and maintaining participation.

"We will also be offering some different foods that your children may not have tried before, so please encourage your child to try these items," Larson wrote to parents. "They just might become a new favorite!"

Parents who have questions or comments can contact BSD Aramark Food Service Director LaVon Larson at 248-837-8122 or llarson@berkleyschools.org.

Kristin Sanders September 12, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Perhaps not allowing kids to leave school property during their lunch hour would help the teens to eat right too. They walk down Coolidge eating pizza and other fast foods and pop on their way back to school. Just sayin'!
Leslie Ellis September 12, 2012 at 03:28 PM
What's everybody think about a closed campus at lunch?
Jenn Johnson September 15, 2012 at 01:45 AM
My husband and I have a school-age child and a toddler. During Kindergarten, we allowed our oldest to "brown bag" her lunch. It was a little difficult because we are vegetarian and therefore use a cow milk alternative which we were told was offered but found that such was not done consistently. Plus, some of the food combinations were a little odd and just not healthy or appetizing for that matter. It's a good thing that this has happened because childhood obesity is rampant. We will still continue to "brown bag" :-)

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