Bozeman News

Jan 27, 2012 11:49 AM by Christina Lysacek

Local schools already meeting new guidelines set for school lunches

Public school children all over the country will see less fat and sodium and more fruits and vegetables on their lunch trays thanks to the USDA's new nutrition guidelines that were updated Wednesday for the first time in 15 years.

But some local public schools have been meeting the guidelines even before they were set.
"I think it's important to eat healthy at school," said Belgrade Intermediate School fourth grader Jessica Reichert.

Reichert eats a hot lunch every day.

"Five years ago we started spending more time looking at the nutrition end of things and what we offer kids to eat," Principal Jan Riebhoff said.

And Reichert says she can't taste a difference

"It's really good. There's no real difference," Jessica said.

"Only change we really need to make is offering a few more of leafy green vegetables," Riebhoff said.

The new guidelines were set in an effort to improve child nutrition and reduce childhood obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about 17% of U.S. children and teenagers are obese. However, Belgrade schools don't want to completely take away the food kids love, so they just find a way to make the student's favorite foods more nutritious

"Hot dogs are hamburgers are okay. You're just not going to get the pork traditional hot dog, it's going to be a chicken turkey blend," Belgrade Intermediate School head cook Barb Barber said.

Kids who opted for a hot lunch got the choice of a sandwich on whole grain bread or a chicken entrée, veggie trio, a fruit cup and fat free milk

But Barber thinks healthy eating needs to start before kids come to school.

"The parents have to teach their kids how to eat healthy at home before they're going to eat healthy here," she said.

To support the changes schools will receive an additional six cents per meal in federal funding.

"There's a little incentive, but the biggest incentive is to provide the best situation we can for the students," Riebhoff said.

The Bozeman Public Schools assistant superintendent says many of the new USDA guidelines will not have an effect on their practices because they have been incorporating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into their meals for years.


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