You may have heard there will be new requirements for school meals. The new requirements are great news for our students. The new requirements will build on the work the Waukee Community School District's Nutrition Department is already doing to provide more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthier main dishes in our school cafeterias.
Some of the New Requirements Include:
- Increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables
- Reducing the sodium in meals over the next 10 years
- Setting calorie maximums for the first time
- Increasing whole grains
- Limiting the amount of meat/meat alternatives and grains
Students will now be required to have ½ cup of fruit or vegetable on their tray for it to count as a full meal. At the elementary schools, supervisors will be at the end of the line to ensure students are getting the the required amounts of fruits or vegetables. At the secondary level, if a student doesn’t have the ½ cup of fruit or vegetable, there will be options at the cash register to choose from. If the secondary student refuses to take the ½ cup of fruit or vegetable, the items will be charged as individual a la carte items.We plan to offer a variety of fruits and vegetables daily to give students more options in the hopes that choosing fruits and vegetables will be easy.
Schools are now limited on how much meat/meat alternate and grains that can be offered. This means that some of the main dishes may not be as large as they have been in the past. Remember, there will be more fruits and vegetables available to fill out the meal and ensure students have plenty to eat!
Waukee School's Nutrition Department has already made progress toward meeting the new requirements.
What We Are Already Doing
- Fresh fruit and vegetables are served every day.
- Sandwiches are served on 53% whole grain buns.
- In the next year most pasta served will be whole grain.
- Reduced fat items have been incorporated into the menus.
- Main dishes have been changed to include lower sodium options.
- Dark green and orange vegetables are served on a weekly basis.
- Dried beans have been incorporated into some of the recipes.
- Salad bars are available every day that include romaine lettuce and fresh spinach.
"We’ll face some challenges to meet the new requirements on a tight budget, but our school nutrition program will work hard to make these healthy changes for our students and make each meal something our students will enjoy," Jeannie Allgood, director of nutrition, said.
How Can You Help?
The school nutrition program needs the support of parents to succeed! Parents/guardians can support this effort by encouraging their child(ren) to give the healthier meals a try, joining their child(ren) for lunch, talking about healthy options, or simply introducing their child(ren) to these healthy changes at home. Parents/guardians are the primary role models for children. When children see parents/guardians choose healthy foods they are more likely to choose them as well.