This coming fall, school menus are set to follow the “Smart Snacks in School” standards, as set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The new regulations include: foods must be a whole-grain product; and the first ingredient must be a fruit, vegetable or a protein food. Snacks and entrée items must also follow limits for calories, sodium, fat and sugar.
In two weeks, Peg Panici, director of food services for Spring Lake Public Schools, will work with two classes to taste-test several foods that might be offered next year based on the new standards.
“It’s a taste change,” she said about the new foods.
The USDA says the “Smart Snacks in School” standards reflect that a third of American children are at-risk for preventable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease because of their weight.
Sarah Stone, Chartwells Food Service director for Grand Haven Area Public Schools, said they’ve also started planning ahead and looking at what foods can be served to meet the changes.
As food service employees prepare for lunch each day, they forecast how much food to prepare based on its popularity the last time it was served.
Panici said they have a six-week menu that rotates, but they also have additional meals to break up the monotony. They also gauge which items students choose during the first lunch of the day so that they can adjust the amount of food for the next wave of students.
On average, Grand Haven schools serves more than 2,500 lunches a day, although it depends on the month and what’s on the menu.
Stone said that number is up over the past five years. She said the increase might be a result of marketing healthier eating in a way that makes students want to eat the meals, and parents wanting their children to eat healthier.
To read the whole story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.