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Home » Featured, News

New lunch nutrition guidelines frustrate students

Submitted by on November 14, 2012 – 11:35 am

Federal nutrition guidelines require that lunch, including beverages, has 750-850 calories. Many students said they feel that the nutrition at lunch could be better, and the district is working to improve its offerings.

Kayla Smith
Opinion Editor

Last year when Everett students went through the lunch line, they could simply take a slice of pizza and milk, and be done…but those days are over. When Everett students go through the lunch line now, they have to take a fruit or vegetable, milk and whatever else is being handed out in the lunch line.
This year the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs have to follow the new strict requirements of the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). The new requirements make schools increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and introduce fat free and low-fat milk in school meals. Schools also have to reduce levels of sodium, saturated fat and trans fat, as well as preparing meals that fall within their calorie requirements suggested by the government. This results in smaller portion sizes for students.
For some students, the portion sizes have shrunk dramatically. Students are only allowed 750-850 calories per lunch period. Now that the district has to meet the new guidelines they do not have as much leeway as they would like.
“The Lansing School District’s Food & Nutritional Services Department makes the decision (of what to offer in meals) based on food items provided by vendors chosen by ARAMARK,” said ARAMARK’s Lansing Manager Kirk Valkner.
While some students don’t notice the portion size changes, others have and think the change is beneficial.
“It’s good that they’re smaller. Our serving sizes are finally like that of the rest of the world,” said senior Sharaya Lundy.
Students have varying opinions about the new choices. Some students said the food is unappealing.
“I think the food is very unappetizing; most of the food looks like it was just reheated from the day before,” said senior Rebecca Walzak.
Other students said that while the food isn’t restaurant-quality, it is fine.
“It’s decent, but most of the vegetables [are] nasty. The only good veggies they serve are the tater tots, beans, and cooked carrots,” said Lundy.
While students said they leave the cafeteria hungry because they did not eat lunch or the food did not look appetizing to them, according to Valkner, more people are eating lunch now than before.
“We are serving 1,100 more meals a day (in the district) than we were the same time last year,” said Valkner.
That doesn’t mean that students still don’t leave the cafeteria hungry. Valkner said that the school district is working with the Food Service Department to come up with creative ways to address the situation.
Students who want to voice their opinion on school lunches and the new federal guidelines have ways to do so. In the building, Principal Norman Gear has said he has an open-door policy, and is willing to hear what students have to say. In the district, school board members can be emailed or called. Contact information is on the school district’s website (lansingschools.net).
At the federal level, writing a letter to Representative Mike Rogers (mikerogers.house.gov ) or Senator Carl Levin (levin.senate.gov) is a way to make your voice heard in Washington.

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