Changes In School Lunch Requirements Begin With New Year

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

When the students at Hunt Elementary in Jackson returned to school this year, they may have noticed some differences in their lunchtime.

"Students are required now to take a fruit or vegetable with their meal which is different than before," said Brant Russell, Food Services Director for Jackson Public Schools.

According to Russell, that is just one of many changes by the USDA that schools are facing this year.

"They've taken fruits and vegetables and separated them into and they've given us some vegetable sub-groups," said Russell. "We can only offer eight or nine grains a week."

Changes in the minimum and maximum requirements for each food group and a focus on fruits and vegetables has forced Jackson schools to alter their serving lineup and make vegetables the center point of their lunch trays.

Even with the changes, eating healthy has been a focus for a while in the Jackson district.

"We've been on the fruit and vegetable bars here for the last three or four school years," said Tom Schneider, the Kitchen Manager at Hunt Elementary. "I've had a good turnout and very few kids buying their own lunches so that usually tells me I'm doing something right."

With the USDA changes, different grade levels have different requirements. For example, grades 9-12 can have 200 more calories a day than grades K-5.

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