Imagine the surprise then, when students saw more vegetables and fruit and less proteins and grain.
Thus, Thursday morning in the Acadia Parish School Board’s child nutrition office was spent fielding calls from concerned parents about their students being fed less for lunch.
“I just got off the phone with a mother and I told her that the USDA, because of the obesity rates, and with First Lady Michelle Obama’s program, new regulations have been put in place,” said Ruth Miller, supervisor of child nutrition.
This fall meant the changes took over in Acadia Parish as well as many other schools across the country as the tough new federal nutrition standards look to ensure that school meals are healthy and well-balanced; thus, providing students all the nutrition they will need to succeed at school.
The new school meals will offer students milk, fruits and vegetables, proteins and grains while adhering to strict limits on saturated fat and portion size.
New standards required also include age-appropriate calorie limits, larger service sizes of vegetables and fruits with students required to take one serving of produce, a wider variety of vegetables (including dark green and red/orange vegetables and legumes), fat-free or 1 percent milk (flavored milk must be fat free), more whole grains and less sodium.
Combined with the new standards, Acadia Parish continues to offer its students healthier and tastier choices.
But the concern came when students came home complaining that they barely saw meat on their plate.
“We have limits on the proteins and grains we can serve per week, so some items were cut a little bit,” said Miller. “But we increased the size of fruits and vegetables being served.
“And, as we are explaining to the parents, it really isn’t less food.”
Throughout the past few years, First Lady Obama has pushed for parents to get children eating more fruits and vegetables at home to get a taste for the produce, and as Miller explained, this has become the next step by the federal government.
School meals menus are also available on the Acadia Parish School Board’s website (http://www.acadia.k12.la.us) if parents would like more information about what their child(ren) will be eating each day. To get the facts about school meals, you can also visit www.TrayTalk.org.
The child nutrition office also welcomes parents call with any questions they have. They can be reached at 337.788.4096.