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Examiner
  • Students respond well to revamped lunch menus

  • When new requirements went into effect last fall regarding school lunches, it prompted a backlash from students throughout the United States. A group of students in Kansas even made a video entitled “We are Hungry” that was viewed more than a million times. It depicted how “hungry” they were because they felt like they were not getting enough to eat during lunch.

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  • When new requirements went into effect last fall regarding school lunches, it prompted a backlash from students throughout the United States. A group of students in Kansas even made a video entitled “We are Hungry” that was viewed more than a million times. It depicted how “hungry” they were because they felt like they were not getting enough to eat during lunch.
    And although the USDA recently announced that some of those requirements will change for the next school year, Bruce Wallen, food service director for the Blue Springs School District, said that kind of negativity toward the new menus was never felt in Blue Springs.
    “There was a lot of waste to start with, but I think that is getting better now. It really just depends on what it is,” he said of how the students are liking the new offerings. “It also depends on what kinds of commodities we get from the government and trying to find new ways to serve them.”
    The changes to the National School Lunch Program were a part of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign, a program that is aimed at curbing childhood obesity and teaching students better eating habits. Some of these changes include offering more whole grain foods, requiring students to take both a fruit and vegetable every day, doubling the serving sizes of fruits and vegetables, limiting calories based on a child’s age, offering only fat-free and low-fat milk and reducing the amount of fat and sodium in a meal.
    Wallen said they also had to change some of the types of food they served such as switching from iceberg lettuce to romaine and fresh spinach.
    “Those types of lettuce are more nutritious, which is why we had to switch to that,” he said. “The kids seem to really like it.”
    The food service department even had a special event at one of the elementary schools a few months ago to introduce students to different types of produce such as snap peas, mangoes and even star fruit.
    “They really liked the snap peas, so we try to serve those as much as we can,” he said. “Of course, they still dip them in ranch.”
    But thanks to the Agriculture Department’s decision to respond to all the negative criticism, school districts like Blue Springs are going to get a little more leeway next year when planning lunch menus. Although the calorie requirements will remain in place, the daily and weekly limits on meats and grains will go away.
    Wallen said was is most important is that Blue Springs serves a high quality meal to all his students.
    “For the same price as one regular spicy chicken sandwich, apples, a small fry and milk from McDonald’s, our students get a serving of tater tots, fruit cocktail, fresh broccoli, milk and one of our spicy chicken sandwiches on a whole wheat bun,” he said. “I think that shows that we are serving good food for a good value.”
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