Monday, January 30, 2012

Student Nutrition Department is Ahead of the Curve

On January 25, 2012, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released new regulations for the National School Lunch Program to ensure healthier school lunches for students across the nation.

The final standards make the same kinds of practical changes that many parents are already encouraging at home, including:
  • Ensuring students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week;
  • Substantially increasing offerings of whole grain-rich foods;
  • Offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties;
  • Limiting calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size; and
  • Increasing the focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.

Mansfield ISD has already taken great strides on our menus to encourage healthy eating throughout the student population. Implementing these changes will be easy for MISD because of the previous menu revisions over the last several years.

At the elementary and intermediate level, all sandwich offerings from lean meat hamburgers to grilled chicken are offered on whole wheat products only. Whole wheat dinner rolls are offered one to two days a week on the elementary and intermediate levels as well. We began serving whole grain pizza in the 2010-11 school year after a taste test was conducted at Holt Elementary school in the spring of 2010. Students were given samples of pizza made from different flour types. When asked to choose which pizza they would like to have in the cafeterias, the response was overwhelming in favor of the whole grain pizza. The pizza is also topped with low fat mozzarella cheese. 

The new regulations require any flavored milk to be nonfat. Again, MISD has already accomplished this by offering only 1% unflavored milk or nonfat unflavored, strawberry, chocolate and vanilla milk. 

MISD offers chef salads and fresh fruit daily at all school levels. Ground turkey in place of ground beef is used in several entrees offered by the District. Other healthy alternatives offered by the student nutrition department are yogurt, fruit parfaits and entrees such as oven roasted chicken and pasta dishes made from whole grain pasta. 

So in response to these regulations, MISD is well prepared and welcomes the changes the government is making to enrich the lives of students across the nation through better nutrition.