New School Meal Requirements

You may have heard that there will be new requirements from the USDA for school meals. Most of these new rules will begin for school year 2012-2013. Jennings County School Corporation’s Child Nutrition Department has begun making many of these changes during the previous school year so the students will already be accustomed to some of the changes when they are actually required. Breakfasts and lunches served at school will meet the new USDA guidelines.

Biggest Changes:

• Students will now be required to have at least 1/2 cup of fruit or vegetables on their tray at lunch for it to count as a full meal. We plan to offer a variety of fruits and vegetables each day to give the students more to select from.

• There will be three different age groups; K-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Before, we only had two age groups. You’ll see that on the menus, many of our items are the same, but portion sizes and recipes will be designed to meet the specific age groups.

• We are now limited as to how much meat/meat alternate (cheese, yogurt, etc.) and grains we can offer. Previously, we only had a minimum to meet, but could offer more. Now we have to stay within the specified ranges for each age group for breakfast and lunch. There will be more fruits and vegetables offered than there have been in the past.

• Half of all grains offered during the 2012-12 school year must be whole grain rich. Almost all of our grains offered already meet this requirement. This includes items such as bread, hamburger and hotdog buns, dinner rolls, and desserts.

• We must offer vegetables at lunch from the following groups each week: dark green, orange/red, and dried beans/peas (legumes). We also have the option to include starchy and other vegetables. We will be working towards this goal by serving fresh veggies with low-fat ranch dressing, steamed broccoli, switching all salads to romaine, Spring mix or spinach, and offering legumes and a variety of other vegetables during the week.

• Schools have until 2014-2015 to meet the first level of lower sodium limits. We expect as manufacturers reformulate some of their products to bring down sodium levels that it will not be a problem to meet this requirement at all. We do not add salt to during cooking, or have salt shakers available to students.

How You Can Help:

• Encourage your children to try new things at home and school.

• Join your child for lunch and/or breakfast anytime.

• If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us. We’re here to help!