PIERRE, S.D. – (DRG News) School meal menus and federal changes that have been made to the school lunch program were the subject of a stop yesterday in Pierre by Congresswoman Kristi Noem. Noem wrote a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack last week requesting information on new standards that are part of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Noem says she has been hearing negative comments from parents, students, school administrators and school board members on the new food requirements. She says a lot of the food that must be served is being thrown away and some kids leave the lunchroom still hungry because the menu limits calories. Noem spoke with Georgia Morse Middle School students Tuesday and says the kids expressed their opinions on changes that have been made to the food selections on their lunch trays.
Darrel Davis who is the Food Services Director for the Pierre district says lunches must now meet a specific lower calorie count and students are required to take at least one serving of fruits or vegetables. Even though rules say students must take a fruit or vegetable, the district says students are reportedly throwing away whole pieces of fruit-which is leading to waste being up at all schools. Davis says some older students need a certain calorie rate to maintain their energy for after school athletics-and these federal requirements make that hard to accomplish.
In previous years, the district served prepared foods like macaroni, potato and pudding salads, but Davis says those are now too high in calories and were eliminated. Also, a limitation has been placed on the amount of higher calorie condiments that are served. Davis says one older student told him that in some cases, youngsters are eating fast food after school-which defeats the purpose of healthy lunch selections.
Davis says the new requirements mean the district is spending more money on food-including fresh fruits and vegetables.
Noem believes the 2010 legislation should be modified to allow districts to have more flexibility.
The district says school nurses are voicing concerns about diabetic students who are not getting enough carbohydrates with the new requirements. They also indicate that the USDA’s paid lunch equity means the district had to raise school lunch prices by a dime per meal this year, but says students are receiving less food per meal due to the change in nutrition requirements.
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