Madison-Oneida BOCES news
(Canastota, Oneida, Stockbridge, NY – July 2012) Students and families should expect to see several changes to the school cafeteria this year, due to new federal and state guidelines for the school food service program.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture adopted new standards to make school meals healthier, limiting the amount of calories, fat, salt and sugar that food served in the school lunch line can contain. Schools across the state and nation participating in the National School Lunch Program must comply with these new standards beginning with the 2012-13 school year.
“Students are going to see some big changes – changes to the food we can serve, to how we charge for a meal, to the items that are sold a la carte,” said Joyce Smith, food services manager for Madison-Oneida BOCES.
Most notably, in order for a school lunch to qualify as a “reimbursable meal” or eligible for free and reduced-price meals, students must have a fruit or vegetable on their tray. Previously, students needed only to take three of the five items offered.
“So a student who used to take a pizza, a milk and a cookie, or chicken nuggets, cheese sticks and a roll – those meals won’t count, and the students will be charged,” Smith said.
A “reimbursable meal” is one that meets federal guidelines so the school cafeteria service can receive payment from the federal government for serving it. This payment makes up the different between what the school charges students and what the food actually costs to purchase and prepare.
Other major changes will include:
* Specific calorie minimums and maximums per meal, based on age/grade level
* Serving greater daily amounts of fruits and vegetables
* Serving specific vegetables from different categories, including a new requirement to serve dark greens, beans/peas/legumes and red/orange vegetables each week
* Reducing the amount of meat and meat alternatives served
* Setting a maximum amount of bread/grains served per day
* Requiring that at least half of the grains served must be whole grain
* Requiring all milk served to be 1 percent or fat-free, and chocolate milk may only be fat-free
For more details on the changes, visit fns.usda.gov/cnd/lunch/.
The Madison-Oneida BOCES Food Service Program manages the cafeteria service for the Canastota, Oneida, Stockbridge Valley and Vernon-Verona-Sherrill school districts and the BOCES Alternative Education Programs.