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NIS Blog-Navigating New Nutrition Regulations

navigating through the new regulations and what they mean to the body and the bottom line

In light of the fact that there seems to be so much
misperception regarding the importance of the nutrition initiative, I thought I
would spend some time to catch everyone up on what is going on.  As, even though I have been involved in this for some time, I am also left confused.

The new government regulations have begun to take effect for our National School Lunch Program. (which also includes Breakfast)  Rather than spend time explaining them, I will sum it up and attach the link for those that want more information.  The new regulations, known as the Healthy
Hunger-Free Kids Act, seem to be getting much attention.  The goal of this new Act is to have lunches that are more nutritional by adding fruits and vegetables and more whole grains.  Ultimately there will be more involved, like grains needing to have a “whole grain” as its first component in a list of ingredients, and sodium levels that are below 700 mg per meal for the highschool and even lower for the elem and middle school.  There is also now not only a minimum, but also a maximum, calorie limit per meal. Although this seems difficult, especially for the athletes that may need more than what is allotted, this does not mean that they cannot have more to eat, it just means they cannot have more in their reimbursable lunch.  For example, it will cut down on a child having two hot dogs or cheese steaks, but they can have additional vegetables and fruits at no additional cost.    Also for the athletes who need energy for practice or games later in the day, having a healthful snack, would probably help to curb hunger pangs.  But having this lead to less kids buying lunch, is a possibility.

http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/governance/legislation/LAC_03-06-12.pdf

One benefit of these new regulations, is allowing creativity
and more push to create freshly prepared meals. Processed foods notoriously have high sodium levels and are filled with many unwanted chemicals and additives. It is recommended, as a way to control that, to cook your own food from fresh ingredients.  Before we say “there is no time for cooking”
or “we do not have the equipment for cooking”, that is not the case, as there
were freshly prepared meals last year and with some practice, it ran smoothly,
and sold well.   This year we are unfortunately back to almost all processed non nutritional foods.   Considering that Food Service reported that we are down in sales from last year(same time frame), It seems that contrary to what some may believe, selling processed foods is not necessarily the answer to the financial issues at hand. 

Since there have been many comments suggesting that there is
no need to do this stuff in schools, I wanted to share a link to address why
this issue of childhood obesity needs to be addressed, as it is affecting our national security.

http://www.missionreadiness.org/2012/statement-in-support-of-updated-school-meal-standards/

As the first Newly reformulated Nutrition Advisory meeting took place this week , it was upsetting to see so many non- nutritional items being discussed as continuing or being added to the menu, even though there was no documentation to support that these items had ever sold well. So if it is not a top selling item and has a poor nutritional profile, why would it even be up for discussion? 


I left the meeting very confused, as it seems that we never have ALL of the information needed to make the best educated decisions, but yet a vote is still taken, and decision is made. It would have of course been helpful to see the cost and ingredients (per meal) of every meal offered in the district, the profit margin and rebate information, as well as the sales (by location) information, but yet it seems like we never have any of that information available, and we continue to make decisions blindly.  When decisions are made without all of the information, we all know it just leads to more problems.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Stacey Margo October 05, 2012 at 01:35 AM
I don't see Jodi's comment here, now, but I can only say that I share her deep frustration with the treatment of the NAC, and the parents that have spent countless, tiresome hours only to strive to do what's best for ALL children. We seek to give voices to all children, and all parents, that deserve the best welfare and health in our school system. It is not too much to ask. Yet we are continuously demonized, bullied, attacked, and even called atrocious names like, "nutrition-nazis." It is easy to feel defeated and want to give up. But we won't. I have learned so much from my teammates on the NIS, led by Jill Florin. And the harder you try to knock us down, the stronger we become. There is a reason you want us to go away and give up our fight...but we won't. We will not succumb to the lies...we will keep going because our children need us to. It's not about us, it's about them...it's always been about them and it always will be about them. UD seems to have forgotten this in their code of ethics and policy but we haven't...and we won't.
Cecelia McMichael October 05, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Hi Jill, I actually retired last summer but my concern over the future of our children is still a concern. Unfortunately, there is no magic potion. Education is vital to this challenge along with a lot of support from home. Unfortunately many meals today are eaten outside of the home and school. We all know the oversized portions in restaurants today. Also because of time and money limitations many families eat at fast food restaurants on a regular basis. As you well know obesity is a huge problem! Education both in eating healthy and in physical activity is key in helping to solve the problem of obesity.
Greenbyrd October 05, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Hi Cecelia, I am also a former food service worker(17 years) and I also agree that education is the key to feeding kids more healthy foods. But, it is not ok for kids to be able to purchase highly processed foods every day from the school cafeteria! It would be nice to be able to switch back to the "serve only" system...then kids would actually be getting what parents think they are getting...a balanced meal on their tray! But most do not know this is an " offer verses serve only" system where kids pick the four components they want to make up their reimbursable lunch. And without much marketing, or education about kids having to take a fruit or veggie for their lunch to be reimbursable...sales will be down. A quick solution is to have plenty of fruit juices at the cashier, so kids can just grab a juice to get through the line, and then toss it before they even sit down to eat! FAILURE!! Everyone must be involved in the education of this transition to real food. School board, supers, teachers, principals, students, and parents. Kids have to know why we are having them eat more fruits and veggies, whole grains, less salt and less calories. And it has to be taught and reinforced by all to succeed! Our district does a great job teaching health and nutrition at all levels, but there is no connection with the cafeterias. Kids still get to buy chicken bites with a roll, canned pears, and chocolate milk. Where is the fiber? The vegetable, the real fruit???
Greenbyrd October 05, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Also want to say that I teach kids and families how to make real, good-tasting, healthy meals for $10 or less ( to feed 4-5) . I had to get away from this "war-like" atmosphere and do some good. My 1st and second graders know the difference between a complex and simple carbohydrates in every day foods that they consume! Most educated adults don't know the differences! Kids should not have to choose between healthy foods that are good for them, and processed, fast foods with little nutritional value AT SCHOOL...they can not choose to have only gym, art and recess all day or to read pornography...we do dictate what we teach them academically...why not when it comes to nutrition?? Kids need a balanced meal served to them at school...PERIOD! Thanks for reading
Stacey Margo October 05, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Greenbyrd, last year when we actually were "allowed" to be more involved with the tastings (that they've since deemed un-necessary and have since taken away,) it was so amazing to be a part of. You commented that we ALL need to be involved. Never a truer statement. We were able to stand in line with the kids, help them understand the impact of their choices...so they could see the connection between what they were learning in the classroom and relate it to the cafeteria! Then the real conversations start! I went to each table and spoke to the children...about why they packed lunch vs bought, discussed the food choices. This was done in all school levels. On top of that, the conversations...even at the elementary levels...were beyond insightful. If I could tell you the number of girls who at that age were discussing body image and anorexia! Wow!!! Discussions and real conversations with these children are so powerful. It's not about numbers and profits. It's about education and people. When will UD actually start to LISTEN???

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