School Lunches at Center of St. Michael-Albertville School Board Discussion
Changes in the school lunch program, from smaller portions to those sweet potato fries, continue to draw fire from both students and parents.
It's going to be another night for the cooks to take center stage.
Dolores Helgeson, director of the food service program for St. Michael-Albertville School District No. 885 will give her annual report to the board of education, and the topic for discussion continues to be changes to the student menu.
Students continue to raise their frustrations (remember this one from now-senior Mikey Kessler) with everything from sweet potato fries and the lack of those beloved "Tater Tots" to the size of portions they are getting from the lunch lines.
Now, rumors are swirling the a la carte line, a "non-healthy option" for many years that has been cleaned up with fruits and healthy options, might go away completely.
The school board will meet tonight at 7 p.m. at the St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West. The board room is accessed via Door A.
In 2011, the board discussed school lunches with then-Sen. Amy Koch, who was present for Helgeson's presenation on Nov. 21 of that year.
Helgeson explained the mystery behind the missing white potatoes, saying Department of Ag. requirements are capping starchy vegetables at 1 cup per week total, which includes cooked corn, peas, lima beans and all the traditional potato sides. Sweet potatoes, though, are not lumped under this category since they have been deemed to be healthier than white potatoes.
The district outlines its food service policy on the district website. An excerpt:
Starting in School Year 2012-2013, school lunches will meet additional standards requiring:
- Age-appropriate calorie limits
- Larger servings of vegetables and fruits, with students being required to take a least one half-cup serving of fruit or vegetables
- A wider variety of vegetables, including dark green and red/orange vegetables and legumes
- Fat-free or 1% milk (flavored milk must be fat-free)
- More whole grains
- Less Sodium
The calorie minimum and maximum for students (at lunch) will be as follows (previously there were only minimums):
- Grades K-5: 550-650 calories
- Grades 6-8: 600-700 calorie
- Grades 9-12: 750-850 calories
The site also goes on to state, "We know that at times change can be hard. Some of the more apparent changes that students will see include a limit on the bread/grain items now served, stricter control on meat/meat alternate (protein) serving sizes, and increased serving portions of fruit and vegetables. But with parent support, we can be sure that children adopt the kind of healthful eating habits and lifestyles that will enable them to live longer, more productive lives."