New rules to lunch room eating

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Mike Layher, Journalist

Over the past 10 to 15 years, the food service staff has been working on creating healthier and more appealing choices for the students in the lunch program.

Additionally, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires the United States Department of Agriculture to establish nutrition standards for foods sold in all schools.

“These changes include calorie limits, whole grain requirement, mandatory fruit and vegetables, milk requirements, sodium reductions and now this year, ala carte,” said Director of Food Service Patti Russell.

The goal of the nutritional changes is not only to form a healthier option, but to increase sales on lunch altogether.

“With an enrollment of 885, we are serving over [50%] with a regular reimbursable lunch, with about 20% more equivalent meals (ala carte purchases), which gives us about a 70-75% participation,” said Russell.

As well, the “On display” items have had a price reduction to create more availability for students, as well as specials being at no additional cost for those in the free and reduced mean program.

Since the adjustments, lunch sales have increased and ala carte (ordering by the menu) sales have been lowered significantly, which was the goal from the beginning.

“We believe that our customers, staff and students alike, have a very educated palate.” said Russell. “We want our foods to look and taste good while creating a warm and inviting dining experience. Presentation is very important as people eat with their eyes.”

Though changes to lunches have received varying opinions, the food service staff is working to further improve the nutrition and appeal of their meals.