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The new lunch line

Guidelines require schools to meet stringent nutrition standards

Students throughout the country will see a new serving requirements for fruits and vegetables on their lunch tray this school year.

Students throughout the country will see a new serving requirements for fruits and vegetables on their lunch tray this school year.

— Hanlon said students will notice larger portions of fruits and vegetables and smaller portions of “things that are not good for them.” Portions sizes will also be smaller than before, too.

“Now they can’t have cheeseburgers every day,” Gagnon said.

Cheeseburgers will likely become a rarity, because Gagnon said it is difficult to serve meat and cheese on the same day under the new guidelines. Hamburgers would also be served on whole-wheat buns.

She used to make salads with shredded cheese and some type of meat, but at the elementary level that would be tricky to do while still meeting the guidelines. And while the quantity of chicken nuggets served won’t change, the nugget itself will be different. Processed meat was common before, but now the nuggets will be low-sodium, low-fat, white chicken breast meat and breaded with whole-wheat grains.

“Even though they are getting the same chicken nuggets, it is a different chicken nugget,” she said. “We have been making the changes gradually, so I am hoping the kids here are not completely thrown off.”

At Schalmont, vonMaucher said one of the first changes was moving from a white hamburger bun to whole grain and likewise for hot dog rolls.

“In the beginning the children looked at them differently … but over time they began to accept them,” vonMaucher said. “The more they see it the more it becomes commonplace to see it and it isn’t different anymore and they accept it.”

She said the hardest part is just getting kids to try something new. When the school first started serving refried beans, she said perhaps 10 percent of the kids put it on their plate. Now, half of the students will take refried beans.

At Schalmont, vonMaucher said two thirds of the students purchase lunch at school and about 15 percent of students are approved for the free or reduced lunch price program.

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