School Lunch Guidelines Leaving Mixed Reviews
Nationwide, portion size and calorie limits have some students complaining
ANCHORAGE - A national effort to make school lunches healthier has left some kids feeling hungry.
Across the country the new rules governing portion size and calorie content are getting mixed reviews. The guidelines call for larger portions of fruits and vegetables and smaller servings of bread and other grains.
In the Anchorage School District, Head Nutritionist LaDonna Dean says she hasn’t heard of kids complaining of leaving the lunchroom hungry. She says her biggest challenge is getting students to eat the healthier food that’s offered.
Salad bars are now a common sight at local schools including Dimond High School. But kids can also choose from a menu filled with favorites that have been re-tooled. Pizza has a whole grain crust and low fat cheese and the portion size has been reduced. Dean says that came about with the new regulatio
“At the high school level I had to make the pizza slice just a little bit smaller so that it was two ounces instead of three ounces of grain,” says Dean.
The new regulations trim milk choices to just skim and 1% but they do allow for some new items. One of the more colorful options is called a Slush Puppy: frozen beverages that resemble “slurpies” but are made with 100 percent fruit juice instead.
All in all, Dean says the new guidelines haven’t caused much of a stir, with one exception: The popular Subway sandwich has proven to be too bready to offer on a daily basis. Dean says she has heard from students about that one.
“That is kind of a complaint because the kids really like Subway. But we still offer it and we are working with our Subway representatives to come up with a solution so that we can bring Subway back five days a week.”
The district is faced with a balancing act of providing what kids will eat while keeping their choices as healthy as possible. The challenge is even greater at the high school level where students have “open campuses.” That means students are allowed to leave at lunch time and get whatever they want.