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USDA Relaxes School Lunch Guidelines

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A healthy diet helps kids fight off illnesses like the flu. That’s one of the reasons why the USDA is so strict when it comes to guidelines for school lunches. But some recent changes are giving schools more flexibility.

The USDA’s guidelines on school lunches may have seemed like a good change in July, but they have come with a couple issues.  

“From unlimited about of grains, back to a limited amount for every age group,” said Victoria Wittrock, Food Service Director at West Central School District in Hartford.
School officials said students aren’t getting their fill of grain. And they aren’t happy about not being able to have peanut butter and jelly everyday.

“Peanut butter is a great protein source but the truth is it’s higher in fat and in calories,” said Wittrock.

Victoria Wittrock is the food service director at West Central School District in Hartford. For her, creating lunch and breakfast menus is more like a science.
" During a weeks time, I would have to figure out, depending on what grade level how many grains they needed,” said Wittrock. “So I would have to look at three different menus.”

The USDA divides all twelve grades into three categories. Each category is allotted a certain amount of calories and types of food groups.

Grades 9 through 12 are allowed two grains per day.
 “So if they are getting a chicken sandwich and a desert, well that had to be counted towards the grains. And like I said a bun is two grains,” said Wittrock.

And that has posed as a problem. Schools were left buying more expensive foods that weren’t filling kids up.
“We had to worry about grain prices too. We are encourage to buy 50 percent wheat or more,” said Wittrock.

But on Monday that all changed.

The new regulations state that as long as students are eating the allotted amount of calories put forth by the USDA, students can eat as many grains and proteins as they want.

Leaving Wittrock happy to say students will be getting extra tator tots every time they are served for lunch.

“I think it will be great for them to have not such a rigid lunch,” said Wittrock.

While the guidelines for grains and proteins have been relaxed, the guidelines for fruits and vegetables have remained the same.
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