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How Will New School Lunch Guidelines Affect SD?

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Students' lunch trays are about to look a little different. Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced new changes to school lunches across the country in an effort to promote healthier habits for kids.

The changes will go into effect next school year. Once the new guidelines go into effect, these kids will see more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. They will also see a lot less salt.

"The food manufacturers have really come out and formulated a lot of their products to meet some of the guidelines. Whole grain, lower sodium, those types of things, and tool them towards the things that kids like, like chicken nuggets, pizza and those types of items," said Chris Beach, Harrisburg Schools Food Service Director.

The new guidelines still mean kids can enjoy their classic favorites. The new pizza will be made with whole wheat crust, low-fat cheese and lower sodium tomato paste.

"You'll find out that a lot of the schools in the state of South Dakota have really started complying with this prior to what's been going on, just because we want to be more conscious of what our students are eating," said Beach.

Beach said the new guidelines won't be much different in the Harrisburg School District than the lunches served currently. A typical lunch contains fruits, vegetables, whole wheat bread and fat-free skim milk.

"All of our milks are 1 percent, skim or skim-chocolate. We already have almost all of our bread products at 51 percent whole grain. We offer unlimited fresh fruits and vegetables for all of our students," said Beach.

Sioux Falls School District Child Nutrition Supervisor Joni Davis also said the new guidelines won't be much of a change. Twenty-four of the elementary schools in the district to hold the HealthierUS Bronze Award. Davis said the district has been making it a priority to educate students on nutrition, and lower the sugar and fat content in their lunches.

"We have fresh fruits and vegetable bars at the middle schools and high schools for kids to select from. We've been working on the whole grains. All of our items except one of our bread items are whole grain currently," said Davis.

Davis said the students have responded well to the healthy offerings so far, and they have been consuming more fruits and vegetables. School officials said the district has been offering healthy options for at least the last couple years, and the biggest change will be reducing the sodium content. In the meantime, they will continue to offer as much of a variety as possible.

"They really have a lot of different choices, and it's up to them to make the right choices on what they have," said Beach.

Beach said he hopes to promote more classroom education in the district to help teach kids the importance on eating a healthy, balanced meal.
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