Greendale - The Greendale School District is working with nutrition consultant Barb Nissel to help students eat fewer processed foods and more fruits and vegetables.
"We've written a new menu that includes the vegetables that were mandated in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kid's Act of 2012 subgroups. You need dark green, red orange, starchy and other - which is cucumbers, asparagus and beans," she said.
Nissel is the food and nutrition chairwoman of the Association of School Business Officials International. She has an undergraduate and two master's degrees in food and nutrition and 32 years of experience in the field.
The district's new menu reflects the new federal standards.
Greendale's students will be required to take a half-cup of fruit or vegetable in every meal. Fifty-one percent of the grains offered in school lunches must be whole grains.
Elementary-level students will have grab-and-go bags that meet all of the requirements. High school students will have more options, but each must meet the requirements.
The changes to the lunch menu do come at a cost.
Lunches this year cost $2 for elementary students and $2.50 for second ary students, breakfast will be $1.50 and adult lunches will be $3.75. This is roughly a 20- to 25-cent increase from last year.
"There is something in the HHKF Act called 'lunch-friendly,' " Nissel explained. "The government believes right now that lunches cost $2.77 to produce, minimum. They're asking all school districts to bring their pricing up to what they think it costs. If you're going to have increased amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, and if you cook from scratch, it's going to cost more. The parents we've talked with are willing to pay the difference."
Beyond the lunchroom
Greendale's new health policies will discourage any unhealthy "celebration" treats as well as unhealthy items in vending machines.
Teachers are being encouraged to use non-food items as a replacement for the celebration treats and are required to have any celebration treats adhere to the district nutritional standards. The district also requires that all foods available on school grounds and at school-sponsored activities during the day meet or exceed the district nutritional standards.
Nissel said, "Those (vending machines) that we are working with are going to have healthy options. A vending machine is like a computer, if you put good stuff in you can get good stuff out. It's available all day so even if they're going after school they'll have access to good foods. There won't be any soda or candy in the vending machines available to schools."
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