Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Federal Nutrition Standards for Schools

Now that we are two weeks into the school year, you may have heard your kids discussing some of the changes that have taken place in our school lunch program.  Although some of those changes have been by design as a part of our school district's commitment to offering healthy lunch choices, other changes have been as a result of new Federal guidelines.

On June 28, 2013, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued an Interim Final Rule entitled "Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in School as Required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010." The competitive foods portion of the rule took effect on July 1, 2014, the start of school year 2014-2015, as required by Section 208 (Sec. 208) of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA).

In the past, the USDA regulations only affected the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs.  However, now, the new rules apply to any food and beverage products sold during the school day.   This includes items sold on our ala-carte lines at the middle school and high school.  It also includes any items sold from vending machines during the school day and even fundraisers.

To be allowable under the new Federal guidelines, a food item must
  1. Be a whole grain rich product (50% or more whole grains); OR
  2. Have as the first ingredient a fruit, vegetable, dairy product or protein food (meat, beans, poultry, etc.) OR
  3. Be a "combination food" with at least 1/4 cup fruit and/or vegetable (fruit and togurt, hummus and vegetables) OR
  4. Contain 10% of the Daily Value of one nutrient of public health concern (only through June 30, 2016) Calcium, potassium, vitamin D, dietary fiber
Meet all of the specific nutrient standards below:
  • Total Fat < or = 35% of total calories from fat per item
  • Saturated Fat < or =10% of total calories per item
  • Trans Fat < or = Zero grams of trans fat per portion
  • Sodium--Entree < or =480 mg per item
  • Sodium--Snack & Side items < or =230 mg per item
  • Calories--Entree < or =350 calories per item
  • Calories--Snack & Side items < or =200 calories per item
  • Total Sugar < or = 35% of weight from total sugars per item
As a result of these new Federal guidelines, your kids may have noticed that there are no longer cookies being served in the lunch line.  Also, regular chips have been replaced with baked chips.  They are also seeing more fruit and vegetable options on the lunch menus.  Throughout the year, they will see more changes as our cafeteria staff continues their commitment to both following the Federal guidelines, and offering healthy food choices for our students.  In the Board of Education's new Strategic Plan, they have identified "Healthier Food Choices" as one of their focuses for this school year.

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