School bells will ring out across Bethlehem this morning as the 2012-13 academic year gets under way.
Kids may notice that some aspects of their school lunch have changed thanks to a new federal law aimed at reducing childhood obesity.
The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act “requires schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat- free and low-fat milk in school meals; reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat and trans fat in meals, and meet the nutrition needs of school children within their calorie requirements,” according to this informational flier produced for the Bethlehem Area School District by its school meal provider, Sodexo.
Some of the changes that you or your child may notice, according to the flier:
- Every meal will consist of five components: grains, meat/meat alternatives, fruit, vegetable and milk. In order to be considered a student meal, the student must select three of the five components. Students are being encouraged to select all five components.
- Every student will be required to take a half-cup of fruit or vegetable each day to make a reimbursable meal. Larger portions of vegetables and fruit will be available to those students who want them.
- Legumes will be offered at least once a week. Legumes are from the bean/pea family, but they are not green beans or green peas. Legumes are full mature beans, such as black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans. You may see these items offered as a side item, such as roasted garbanzo beans. Or, they may be part of an entrée, such as refried beans in a burrito.
- The changes in nutritional requirements may mean different ingredients may be used in the preparation of meals. For example, pizza may include a whole grain crust instead of refined grains.