New regs mean new food at BC

Schools required to offer healthier menus this coming year

— Students in the Bethlehem Central School District will be seeing some culinary changes in the new school year under new federal food service regulations implemented in July.

In 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. While the new law increases the number of children eligible to participate in free school lunch programs and now requires school districts to be audited to improve compliance every three years, it also sets new nutritional standards for all foods sold in school.

“The goal is to provide healthier and more varied food options,” said Paul Franchini, the food service coordinator for BCSD.

The new regulations are based on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and are “expected to enhance the diet and health of school children and help mitigate the childhood obesity threat,” according to the USDA. The rules require schools to increase the servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free milks. The amounts of sodium, trans fat and saturated fat allowed in foods have been reduced.

The deal with new meals

So what that does that mean for hungry kids? According to Franchini, BC’s serving sizes for fruits and vegetables have doubled at the high school, while the required size for proteins and entrees have decreased. Under the new regulations, fruits and vegetables can have no added sugars or syrups and must be either fresh or frozen, with limited use of canned produce allowed.

A limit has also been placed on the number or times starchy or deep-fried vegetable can be served each week, the most notable example being French fries. In addition, meals will now meet the caloric ranges of the age and grade of students.

“They basically went to regulations that are a little bit extreme, but at the same time are needed,” said Franchini.

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