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Archive for Friday, August 24, 2012

First Bell: An explanation of school lunch changes (hopefully)

August 24, 2012

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News, et cetera, from schools in Douglas County:

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• I've been curious about the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which came into effect July 1, and how it affects school lunches. I spoke last week with Lindsey Morgan and Paula Murrish with U.S.D. 497 food services. Turns out, the district was already compliant with a lot of the changes like increasing the number of available whole grains and vegetables.

A lot of what's changed, they said, is in the regulation of how they calculate and distribute their meals — there are now minimum and maximum calorie ranges that they have to stick within.

Related document

Presentation on HHFKA ( .PDF )

There are a lot of rules. Morgan and Murrish ran me through a presentation they used to train staff; you can download it through the link at the left. Here's an example: There must be five servings of vegetables in the lunches for the week, but not all vegetables are equal — there's a max that can come from dark green vegetables, red/orange vegetables, legumes and starchy vegetables. Legumes can also be counted as protein, but can't be double-counted.

One aspect of the regulation that I think makes it actually less of a headache is that rules are set up by age groups that, after school realignment, match up with the ranges in the schools. (If ninth graders were still in middle school, they'd have to have totally different lunches.)

How much does it all cost? Food services increased the lunch cost to $2.30 for elementary school, $2.55 for all other students and $3.35 for adults.

That presentation has more information, especially on explaining what makes a meal. So does the department's website.

• I witnessed lunch today at Bishop Seabury. Development director and music teacher Margie Lawrence showed me around and introduced me to a handful of the 176 kids. It was interesting to get a glimpse into their educational model, and I hope to get to do similar tours of other schools in the area.

• Anything you think I should learn? Drop me an email at acgarrison@gmail.com or call 832-6314.

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