August 29, 2012

Eat your fruits/veggies or go hungry

By Michael Johnson, Editor

It’s no South Beach Diet, but the changes to the school lunch program are aiming for healthier eating in the schools nationwide. From a local stand point, the changes are certainly going to expose youth to more fruits and vegetables. The most noticeable change to the school lunch is that whether you want a fruit or vegetable with your meat, grain and milk, you will get them on your plate. Head cook at the Wilton School, Julie Flinn, said that she thinks that will be a good thing – maybe not at first --- but over time. By the first day of school, she was already seeing students showing disinterest in the required fruits and vegetables. If the students don’t take a fruit or a vegetable, they get a box of raisins tossed on the plate when they get their lunch number punched in. Even then, the students can still toss it all in the trash. In Washburn, much like every other school receiving federal funding through the USDA’s lunch program, the kids are not on board with the changes, according to head cook Judy Hyttinen. “The kids are not happy,” Hyttinen said. But there’s no way around it, according to the North Dakota Department of Instruction assistant director Deb Egeland. She sent out a memo stating that the new USDA meal pattern is not optional. She explained that there are new limits on the ounces of bread, ounces of meat, and added that if students want seconds, that the money for that food is not to be taken out of the allocated funds. They must charge extra for that – even the free and reduced students. Even DPI is not pleased with the changes, Hyttinen said.

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