Parents: You may have seen a communication that went out in June entitled "Healthy Changes in Our School Cafeterias" regarding changes to the lunch menu for the upcoming school year as mandated by the government's Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA).
You probably already know that RI already follows some of the strictest nutrition standards in the country under the Rhode Island Nutrition Requirements (RINR). This means that we're already in compliance with many of the new standards set forth in the HHFKA, like serving more whole grains and limiting saturated fat. However, the final ruling from the USDA will have an impact on our program for the upcoming school year due to new requirements that set both minimum and maximum ranges for grains and meat/meat alternatives served.
Why all of these changes?
Through the HHFKA, the USDA is making the first major changes in school meals in 15 years to help ensure a healthier generation of children. These changes are intended to significantly benefit the long-term well-being and success of today's students. These guidelines are built around the new USDA guidelines for a making better food choices, which can be found at www.choosemyplate.gov, and which replace the
old food pyramid model.
What will this mean for your child?
We've done our best to meet these new nutritional requirements without significantly impacting your child's old school lunch favorites, but you may notice some changes both on the menu and on your child's lunch tray. The most significant changes are in portion size and the components that make what the government considers a "reimbursable meal." You can expect to see larger servings of both fruits and vegetables available daily. You may also notice some reduction in the portions of grains and proteins, however, many of our entree selections were already in compliance with the new standards and will be unaffected.
What makes a meal under the new rule?
All school lunch meals are now based around the five components seen on the MyPlate icon: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy. In order for your child to have what is considered a complete meal he or she must meet the following requirements: There must be at least ONE full (1/2 cup) serving of fruits or vegetables on their tray along with any other TWO different components; your child must have at least THREE DIFFERENT components on their tray, one of which must be a fruit or a vegetable, in order for his lunch to be considered a complete meal. Please note that if your family receives free or reduced price meal benefits, then your child MUST meet the above mentioned requirements in order to be charged at the free or reduced rate rather than at a la carte pricing. For example, if your child qualifies for free lunch but comes through the line with only a milk or only a hamburger, he would be charged at the a la carte prices for those items. Even if you child has a hamburger and a milk, which does meet the requirement of three components (grain, protein & dairy), his lunch would still not qualify as a complete meal without the addition of one full serving of fruits or vegetables!
We'll do our best to help your child understand these new requirements as to "what makes a meal," but we need your help! Please talk to your child before the start of school to ensure that are ready to start the new school year off right by taking at least one serving of fruits or vegetables with their lunch daily!
For more information on the HHFKA of 2012, click here.
Want to help your family make healthier food choices but don't know where to start? Visit ARAMARK's new website at www.myhealthyforlife.com where you can view quarterly nutrition newsletters, find more information on National wellness initiatives and even view real Q&A's from parents to our team of registered dieticians on a variety of topics!