Schools keep adjusting to national nutrition guidelines

Paducah-area school districts “continue to adjust school meals to ensure students are fed complete, healthy meals every day,” Kathleen Fox reports for The Paducah Sun.

The revised National School Lunch Program “places the emphasis on portion size and healthier food options such as fruits, vegetables and milk,” Fox notes. “The requirements to make lunches and breakfasts healthier, which have been phased in over the last two school years, will continue to change for the 2014 school year.

All pastas and other grain products in schools will have to be whole-grain rich, defined as 51 percent or more of whole grain, and the first ingredient has to be whole wheat or grain.”

Half the grain products in Paducah Public Schools are whole grain, and some are white to head off complaints, Nutrition Director Penny Holt told Fox. Holt “doesn’t foresee major issues in switching the remain half to whole grain,” Fox writes. “She said many of the whole grain products are popular with students including brown rolls, flatbreads, short slice Domino’s pizza crust and honey wheat whole grain wraps.”

“The healthier options are growing in popularity, especially with our younger kids who have become more familiar with them,” Holt said. All children in the school system receive free breakfast and lunch as part of a special federal program for schools with a large percentage of children in poverty.

“Holt said the greater challenge will be adhering to the stricter sodium guidelines with meals and higher nutritional value for snacks or a-la-carte items,” Fox reports. “Items that can be served other than those on the daily menu include baked chips and whole grain cookies, but nothing with minimal nutritional value such as soda or candy.”

In the McCracken County Schools, Food Services Director Sara Jane Hedges “said the district already has success with many of its whole grain alternatives, including its pastas and pizza crusts,” Fox writes. “She said the change toward healthier a-la-carte options, which now have to provide additional nutritional value, will not be a problem because the district has already worked toward offering foods that meet those guidelines.” (Read more; subscription required)

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