Your Norris School Lunch Program & the New Federal Requirements

Your Norris School Lunch Program & the New Federal Requirements

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Norris Students’ school day just got healthier!  School lunches now include more fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain-rich foods and only fat-free or low-fat milk.  The meal portions are designed for a child's age and contain less saturated fat, trans fat and sodium than were previously permitted.  This is the first change in school lunch in 15 years and the changes are based on the latest federal nutritional guidelines, which schools must comply with in order to remain approved School Meal providers.

Here are some important facts about the new school meals at Norris:

Our lunch menus have adopted the new regulations for the different age groups.  Norris adopted these regulations as a participant in the USDA School Lunch Program.  We are offing a hot vegetable (such as green beans or broccoli) with two to three selections of fresh vegetables in all of our school buildings.  We only offer romaine lettuce, which is considered a dark green vegetable and we also offer more red-orange vegetables than may have been seen previously, such as red bell peppers.  Legumes are offered weekly in a variety of ways.

We have increased our fresh fruit selection to incorporate a fresh fruit daily, along with canned fruits that are canned in pear juice (containing no added sugar).  By increasing our fresh fruits we hope to encourage students try a variety of options.  Common daily options include mandarin oranges, strawberries, and even kiwi.

Rolls are now whole grain rolls, but while this is a requirement of the new SLP regulations, it is not something new to Norris students.  We have used whole grain breads for several years; the nutritional research indicates that this is the healthiest bread option for students, even better than a simple whole wheat or multigrain variety. We are using white wheat flour or oatmeal to make our rolls and most of our buns are also from the whole grain selections.  It may hard to tell that these changes were made as using the white wheat flour the breads do not look whole grain, but they are.  We are also incorporating whole grain pastas. 

We continue to offer only fat-free or 1% milk.  Even the chocolate and strawberry flavored milk is fat-free, and has a reduced sugar content as well. 

It is important to note that much of the “hoopla” surrounding federal school lunch menu changes has not aroused as much controversy at Norris as it has in a number of other schools, simply because we had already instituted most of these changes over the last five years based upon the district meeting Healthy Schools criteria. Norris continues to have 70%+ of our students select the school lunch program on a daily basis. 

Encourage your student to try the school meal and see how the items have changed. Your child can learn good habits for a lifetime by making healthy food choices and getting proper exercise now.  This year is a transition year as school implement these new standards and we want to work together with parents, to ensure that every child, in every community across America, has access to healthy and nutritious meals in our school.  Encourage them to try new foods served at school or accompany them for a school lunch visit sometime soon!

Keep updated on the changes at www.fns.usda.gov/healthierschoolday and you will find all your Norris nutritional information at http://www.norris160.org/resources/meal-services