New rules for school lunches take shape in area schools
SELINSGROVE – There are new rules for school districts from the Department of Agriculture, which oversees the school lunch programs across the country. The Department of Agriculture set fat, calorie, sugar and sodium limits on almost all foods sold in schools, in an effort to combat childhood obesity.
Kevin Oswald is the director of food services in the Selinsgrove and Lewisburg Area School Districts. He said the school lunch standards had not been updated in like 15 years and officially took effect at the start of this school year.
Oswald said, “The changes for this coming school year will mostly increase quantities of fruits and vegetables, and also under the vegetable category, there were what they call vegetable sub-groups, a dark green, a red orange, beans and peas, starchy, and what they call an “other” category. We have to add one of those each day of the week under that category.”
Oswald says they have had to spend more to comply with the guidelines, but it’s mandated by the USDA. He says for the most part, Lewisburg and Selinsgrove have been ahead of the game on the standards.
He said, “The grains to be offered should be whole grains, at least 51 percent. In both Selinsgrove and Lewisburg, we’ve been offering additional fruits and vegetables and whole grains on almost everything each day. We were further ahead in compliance than a lot of other districts were.”
Nutritional guidelines for the subsidized lunches were revised last year and put in place in the fall. They also have changed vending machines in schools to include only water and low calorie drinks. (Ali Stevens)