School lunches get a make-under

New meal regulations begin this school year

SILVER GROVE - Your child's school lunch may be getting a make-under. The portions will get smaller and the choices more healthy, if your children's school participates in the National School Lunch Program like Silver Grove Schools .

Sandy Neises has worked as Silver Grove's food service manager for the past 13 years.

"It needs to happen because our kids are not eating healthy, they really are not," said Neises.  She discussed what's changing in the National School Lunch Program this school year.

"We will probably see less of breaded meats, smaller portions of proteins," Neises said.

All schools that take part in the program get cash subsidies and foods from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). In return, they must serve lunches that meet federal requirements. For example, this year half of all bread products must be whole grain. Next year, all bread products need to be whole grain.

"It's giving us a little bit of a leeway to introduce some of these things," said Neises. She says students won't have the same choices that they've had in the past.

"I think the kids are going to hate it," Neises said. "I said if they like me now, they won't buy the end of the year I'm pretty sure. They're not going to be able to substitute a meal with a sandwich everyday. It's not going to work."

She's hopeful that the new standards will help turn around the childhood obesity trend but she's also realistic.

"Unfortunately, I can't go into the houses and mandate what the parents need to fix for these kids," said Neises. She can't say how the cost of food will change but Neises says whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables are typically more expensive than the white flour and processed alternatives.

"I would like to see the outcome be what it's designed for where our kids do develop a taste for healthier foods. It's not going to be easy," Neises said.
 
Over the next 10 years, schools will gradually meet new requirements for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs.

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