Appling County Schools are set to implement changes to meals served in the cafeteria. As a part of the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) New Meal Pattern, school meals are undergoing changes that reflect the nutrition requirements as defined by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Starting in the upcoming school year, 2012-2013, the New Meal Pattern will be fazed into cafeterias over the next three years.
Increase in whole grain rich-foods
Fruits and vegetables offered for every meal
Only offering fat-free or low-fat milk varieties
Reduction in saturated fats and trans fat
Decrease in sodium
Proper portion sizes so that calories reflect those recommended for students’ by age group
Courtney Gay, School Nutrition Director for Appling County Schools, says that “the changes in the program are positive changes that will help our students make healthier choices. We are seeing a rise in obesity among children in America, and School Nutrition will play an important role in helping students become healthy adults. However, healthy choices need to be offered at home as well. The website www.MyPlate.com provides helpful resources to help parents learn ways to incorporate healthier meal choices at home.”
“Significant changes that parents and students may see in the meal pattern are smaller portions of grains and meat/meat alternates at the K-8 levels and increased fruit and vegetable servings at all grade levels. In order for a student to complete a reimbursable meal he/she must pick up a minimum of three items—one of them being a fruit/vegetable. Students were given the choice of whether to pick up a fruit/vegetable in the past; USDA regulations have changed to where a student must have a fruit/vegetable upon exiting the serving line. Also, Appling County is working towards having 100 percent of the grains offered being whole-grain rich. The USDA requirement for 2012-13 is that half of all grains offered must be whole grain rich.” said Courtney Gay.
The New Meal Pattern raises nutrition standards in schools across the nation and is expected to play a key part of improving the health and nutrition of more than 32 million students nationwide, including the 1.59 million students statewide in Georgia.
“We are working diligently to insure that school nutrition professionals are ready to start applying these positive changes to school meals this year” said Georgia School Nutrition Division Director, Nancy Rice. “Our state has successfully trained School Nutrition Directors for each local school district. We will also continue to provide resourceful materials so that the implementation of healthier meals will also foster a conversation about healthy food choices at school and at home.”
“In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination write: USDA, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S. W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410or call toll free (866) 632-9992 (Voice). Individuals who are hearing impaired or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.”