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Lunch Prices To Increase For Spring-Ford

Spring-Ford's food service director explains the district's new meal program at the first board meeting of the year.

Lunch prices across the district will rise 30 cents this year due to changes being implemented under the new Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act. 

The rise in cost to parents offsets the increased costs for the district, who now must provide more fruits and vegetables as part of a school lunch.

The Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) was signed into law in December 2010. These changes are the biggest reworking of nutritional rules in fifteen years.

Healthy eating has been a major focus of First Lady Michelle Obama's work through her "Let's Move!" initiative.

According to food service director Paula Germinario, many of the new rules for the program have only been released in the last month and a half.

Many of the changes involve the nutritional content of school lunches. In the past, Germinario said, schools had to offer a choice of three of five categories of food: grain, fruit, dairy, protein and vegetables.

Spring-Ford, along with many other districts, previously used a "offer vs. serve" model of providing food.

"In the past, they could choose all five [categories] if they wanted all five, but they could also choose three of the five," Germinario said. "So if there was something they weren't really thrilled with, they didn't have to take it."

"Pizza and a milk would be considered a meal because your cheese would be your protein, your crust would be your grain, and your milk would be your dairy," Germinario explained. 

Now, under HHFKA, one of those three things must be fruit or vegetables.

"This is a big change," said superintendent Dr. David Goodin. "The fruit or the vegetable has to be on the plate, even if they throw it away."

The challenge, Goodin said, is in educating parents and students about what will be served and why.

Germinario said that official communications will be going out this week to explain the new rules to parents.

The idea of Spring-Ford students being required to take a fruit or vegetable that they might then throw away provoked reactions from several board members.

Board member Mark Dehnert said that it is the "personal responsibility [of parents], not government responsibility, to determine what your child eats."

"It's a great intention if I through for a minute it would solve the problems [of poor health]," agreed board member Bernard Pettit. "You're taking away the rights of the parents to decide what their kids eat."

Other board members expressed concerned about the amount of food that would potentially be wasted by kids throwing away fruits and vegetables or other foods that they are required to take but do not want to eat.

"Are they going to monitor how much of this meal that's on the plate is being tossed then?" asked board member Dawn Heine. "As a parent who has three kids in the district, it's alarming. The amount of food that gets tossed now is overwhelming."

However, students will have an a la carte option that will be slightly less expensive, about ten to fifteen cents lower, which will allow them to choose three of the five categories of food. 

If a student chooses to eat a la carte, Germinario said, they would not be required to take the fruit and vegetable included with the full lunch.

The downside to that for the school district is financial, as they do not receive the government reimbursement for a la carte meals.

Board member Edward Dressler asked student representative Elizabeth Brady if she had any thoughts on the requirements. 

"Sitting in the cafeteria, seeing what people do eat and what they throw away, it seems that a la carte will be the more popular option," Brady said.

nicurnbsn August 21, 2012 at 05:19 PM
I am so glad to see that the "required fruit/vegetable will be tossed if not eaten off the tray. Really??? What an utter waste of supposedly nutritious food that could be taken to the local food pantry and given to someone who could appreciate it. We might as well just flush our school taxes, etc right down the toilet. Who is in charge of all this anyway???? Are there any dieticians involved in this decision-making? And I really like how there is NO parental input whatsoever.
momto2chapines August 21, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Ok, this is clearly anecdotal and based only on this small sample of parents, but it is very interesting how the parent comments are in support of healthier school lunches (and would like to see it go beyond these latest improvements) and the folks against them are members of the school board. Things that make you go, hmmmmm.
Sue Jones Sparhawk August 22, 2012 at 10:10 PM
If you are trying to teach your child the value of portion control, then they shouldn't feel alienated or embarrassed for purchasing one entree.
Dianne August 24, 2012 at 01:31 AM
why don't they do away with the little debbie snack cakes, the twix candy bars, the homemade chocolate chip cookies, fruit roll ups, ice cream, strawberry milk, chocolate milk and chips. This would make for better choices by the kids, many of them would be packing. Don't get me started on how the kids can get extra entree's either. And did you know that if your child chooses not to get the 8 oz milk but instead gets the 8oz carton of lemonade they have to pay extra for it because it is not included in the lunch, only milk is included. You can add money to the childs account with a credit card at home. I agree they need to start sending papers back through the mail or students, not everyone has a computer and can check what their child is purchasing.
Sue Jones Sparhawk August 24, 2012 at 09:16 PM
After reviewing the lunch menu for elementary school lunches, they are offering fresh fruits and veggies everyday. All whole wheat bread products, all low fat milk. Less breaded products, and what product may b breaded are whole wheat. Children need to be encouraged by their parents to make sure they put a fruit and/or veggie on their tray whenever they buy. And emphasise the importance of eating them. This has to b taught at home.

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