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October 29, 2012

Healthier options for school lunches

Local school corporations adhere to strict federal standards

— Melea Henry, head cook of Thompson Elementary, started making changes to the lunch menus when she knew the U.S. Department of Agriculture was going to create stricter standards.  

Three years ago, Southeastern School Corporation began by having all grain-rich products replaced with whole grain. Henry said she met with the other head cooks within the corporation, and they revised all menus for the schools.

“We went through every item and every product was analyzed and put in a nutrition base,” Henry said. “USDA was lagging behind. We knew it was coming down the pike so we started working on the changes.” 

The USDA updated nutrition standards for school meals this year as part of a provision in The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2012, a press release stated. 

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act focuses on improving child nutrition and authorizes funding and sets policy for USDA’s core child nutrition programs. 

The press release said these changes are based on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and begin to take effect this school year. 

Zane Densborn, a sophomore at Logansport High School, said he didn’t notice many of the changes besides the type of bread being used. He said the bread served was harder than before. 

Densborn said he also noticed signs on products displaying the amount of protein, what type of grain it was and if a salad dressing was low-fat. 

“It seems the majority of students don’t like the lunches,” Densborn said. “I’ve noticed, especially in high school, that a lot more people bring their lunches.” 

The USDA is requiring all grains be whole grain, both vegetables and fruits must be offered, flavored milk must be skim milk, calories must be limited based on age and reduced sodium is to come. 

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