Restricting ‘seconds’ causing biggest concern in federally mandated program
By Casey Klasna
Terry Schools Superintendent
With the new school year came new changes, especially in school food. This article will focus on the new changes to the school nutrition programs that the Terry School District and districts nationwide are required to implement.
As the Superintendent, I want to inform you on what is going on with the school nutrition programs at Terry Schools. These new changes are federally mandated and all public school districts nationwide are to follow what is spelled out by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010’s main goal is to improve child nutrition. The Act sets new nutrition standards for schools, and allocates $4.5 billion dollars for their implementation. The new nutrition standards have been a major cause of First Lady Michelle Obama in her fight against childhood obesity.
Starting this fall, school lunches will meet additional standards requiring:
• Age-appropriate calorie limits
• Larger servings of vegetables and fruits
• A wider variety of vegetables (including dark green and red/orange vegetables and legumes)
• Fat-free or 1 percent milk
• More whole grains
• And less sodium
The main concern over this Act is that students are not given the opportunity to go back for additional servings of food (the main course). This new Act restricts “seconds.”
This is a major change in what has traditionally been allowed at Terry Schools. It has always been the practice that the students go back for additional servings if they feel the need. The additional servings have been at no cost. With the new guidelines, going back for seconds is restricted unless it is for fruits and vegetables or if the students pay for “seconds.”
This has created the biggest concern.
School food personnel at Terry Schools are doing a wonderful job preparing healthy meals, but also have the responsibility to follow what the government mandates. If we do not follow the new guidelines we can be subject to fiscal penalties. As a Public School District that receives federal money for programs such as Title 1, it is important that we follow what the law says. Terry Schools has provided wonderful and nutritious meals for many years and we will continue to do just that.
This new mandate continues to be a topic of discussion amongst school food personnel, administrators, and school boards. Since this is new, it will take time to implement and time to understand. There are many questions about this new Act and I intend to get more answers.
As Superintendent, I have been in communication with the state and federal officials to get more “educated” on these new guidelines. I want to ensure that the students of Terry Schools are receiving enough to eat and at the same time following the new guidelines. Since the beginning of the school year I have visited the lunch room everyday and it seems that the students are getting enough to eat. The meals have been prepared well and are nutritious.
I want to encourage students to participate in the school food programs. We offer a nutritious breakfast and lunch every day for the students. Families can qualify for free and reduced lunches which mean that students can eat at a lower cost or for free. Please take advantage of the school food program Terry School offers. Right now, the cost of a student meal is $2.00 for K-3 and $2.25 for 4-12. Students are charged $1.00 for breakfast. Terry Schools offer meals at a very reasonable cost. The school district is also reimbursed from the state for every meal served. The reimbursement rates are determined by paid, reduced, or free lunches. However, the school food fund cannot be supported by these low costs even after the reimbursements. All supplies for the lunch program and personnel costs are paid for out of this fund. Since our revenues have been lower than the expenditures, we subsidize to ensure that the students are getting fed and that prices are at a very reasonable cost.