New guidelines for school lunches

In Health & Lifestyles on October 20, 2011 at 6:57 pm

By: Kristen Hegel

            New school lunch regulations set in place by the United States Department of Agriculture have been taking effect across America. The school cafeteria requirements follow the passing of Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act last December. Though some think that the new bill benefits children, others believe it places too many restrictions on what students can and cannot eat.

            The Act includes $4.5 billion for school lunches, which is the first increase since the 1970s. It also contains guidelines for the nutrition standards of daily school meals. The new directions for the schools were set in place in order to prevent childhood obesity and hunger. The proposal of new regulations means foods with less saturated fat, calories and sodium. The main key is an increase in whole wheat, fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat milk and a decline in the use of sodium. Also, leafy greens and colorful vegetables will be preferred over other things like potatoes, meaning no fries or tater tots for some areas.

Here at Fort Mill High, students have noticed changes in the cafeteria. Photo courtesy of Google images

            According to Marka Riddle, a food service director, the cost of eliminating the potato from the school lunch menu would be a concern. In general, potatoes are seven to 10 cents cheaper than green vegetables and have almost the same nutritional value. “When you’re talking 1,500 to 1,700 servings, it begins to add up. Potatoes are a good source of calories and vitamins. Sometimes what we do to the potato makes them less healthy. But by itself, just a fresh potato, it has a lot of value,” Riddle stated. “You can overdo anything, but no vegetable is just evil or just bad for you. If all we ever served is potatoes, that might be an issue, but if you balance it with other vegetables in a week or a month, potatoes are fine.”

            Here at Fort Mill High, students have noticed changes this year in the cafeteria. Salt and pepper packets are no longer available, and sauce packets are now only given out in small portions by cafeteria staff. While some say that it lessens the quality and flavor of the food, the students benefit by having a lower sodium intake.

            The rules and guidelines of the Act will officially take place next school year after the USDA reviews the publics’ comments and concerns. Changes to the regulations may be made in order to coincide with what the people want. Until then, the federal government will be working with the school districts to create a plan that will benefit its students.


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