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March 24, 2018
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Stillwater News

New ‘healthier’ school food regulations force meal prices higher this year

Aug. 24, 2012 — Stillwater Central School students will pay higher prices for their school meals come September as a result of new federal guidelines forcing school districts nationwide to provide healthier meal options in the cafeteria this year.

The Board of Education approved a 25-cent increase in the price of school meals to meet higher costs associated with new meal standards outlined by the United States Department of Agriculture. Those standards, part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act put into law in 2010, require schools to make fruits and vegetables — which are generally more expensive — the focus and main portion of each school lunch. All students purchasing lunch will be
required to take a minimum of three food components, one of which must be either a fruit or a vegetable.

New meal calorie limits are also in place. School lunches, beginning this school year, cannot exceed 650 calories for students in grades K-5, 700 calories for grades 6-8, and 850 calories for high school students. In addition, all breads and grains served in the school food line must be whole wheat (as opposed to white), and there will be a reduction in the amount of breads/grains served over each five-day period.

Why the change? In light of the rise of childhood obesity nationwide, the role of school lunches is no longer to simply
feed undernourished children (which was why the federal school lunch program was started many years ago), but to educate students about making healthy food choices.

Students will not only see more vegetables on the school menu this year but a wider variety of vegetable options. For example, schools are now required to serve legumes (beans), dark green vegetables and red/orange vegetables
at least once a week. They must also decrease servings of high sodium and high starch vegetables such as peas, corn and potatoes.

The bottom line is that students will see larger portion sizes in fruits and vegetables, smaller portion sizes in grains
and cereals, less alternative food choices in the lunch line, and new healthy menu options.

To meet these demands, Stillwater’s Food Service Director, John MacDonald is working closely with the New York State Education Department to develop healthy recipes that comply with the new nutritional standards.

“We’re going to continue to serve nutritionally appropriate meals while exposing students to new meals that are not specific to this area,” MacDonald said. For instance, the district might serve refried beans with its taco offering
instead of corn.

To ensure they are complying with the new federal regulations, school districts will undergo nutritional audits every
three years.

Meal prices to increase

As part of the new nutritional standards, the law requires school districts to raise their meal prices so that they fall
within specific guidelines.

New Stillwater meal prices will be as follows this school year:

  • Elementary Breakfast: $1.50
  • Elementary Lunch: $2.00
  • MS/HS Breakfast: $1.50
  • MS/HS Lunch: $2.25

“We’re asking parents to discuss these new meal options with their children and to encourage healthy eating habits
at home,” MacDonald said. “We’re trying to teach by example here at Stillwater, just like parents would at home.”

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