Kershaw County Schools Change Meals
Changes to improve student nutrition
CAMDEN, S.C. (WOLO) -- The Kershaw County School District (KCSD) will implement substantial changes to its school meal programs starting with the 2012-13 school year as part of federal requirements to improve students’ nutrition.
“While this is being mandated by the USDA, we look at it as a great way to help improve our students’ health,” said KCSD Food Services Coordinator Misha Lawyer. “Studies show that healthy students learn better so this should make a positive impact on student learning.”
Lawyer said that the changes will provide students with more access to a wider variety of fruits and vegetables.
Under former USDA guidelines, fruits and vegetables could be combined as one required category but will now be separated into two groups. “The federal government defines what constitutes ‘a meal’ differently from last year,” Lawyer said. “Students must take at least one fruit or vegetable on their tray in order to meet the definition of a meal. If the meal requirements are not met, students will be charged for each item on their trays, regardless of status (free, reduced or full pay).”
Schools will post signs that advise students of what food items meet the definition of a meal. Parents can help us with these new rules by ensuring that their students know they need to have at least one fruit or vegetable on their tray.
There is also now a weekly requirement for dark green and red/orange vegetables as well as for beans and peas and starches.
Other new guidelines include that at least half of the grains served must be whole grains for this school year. By the 2013-14 school year, school cafeterias will only serve whole grains. Saturated fat cannot exceed 10 percent of total calories and zero grams of trans fat per portion are regulated.
Lawyer explained that past dietary specifications dictated a minimum number of calories per student meal but now a maximum number will be allowed per meal by student age group. New age groups will be divided by grade levels for students in kindergarten through grade five; grades six through eight and grades nine and above.
The new guidelines mandate school cafeterias only will serve fat free (flavored or unflavored) and low-fat (unflavored only) milk. KCSD implemented these choices of milk last school year in advance of the federal mandate.
“We hope that families will use these changes in the school meals to take a look at what they are eating at home too,” Lawyer said. “It’s never too late to start eating healthy. With support from home, we know that students will embrace these changes.”
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