New year, new foodThe first day of school can usually guarantee classrooms filled with brightly decorated bulletin boards, vibrant nametags and colorful backpacks. This year even the cafeteria at Burnside Elementary School got to take part in the action.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
The first day of school can usually guarantee classrooms filled with brightly decorated bulletin boards, vibrant nametags and colorful backpacks.
This year even the cafeteria at Burnside Elementary School got to take part in the action.
As students walked into the lunchroom on their first day of school Tuesday, they were greeted with giant fruit and vegetable decals plastered on the walls, colorful banners hanging from the ceiling and bright signs above the serving line. Even the old pale yellow lunch trays were swapped out with deep purple and red replacements.
“It’s very pleasant now,” said Red Wing School District Food Service Director Julie Haase. “We’re trying to promote fruits and vegetables.”
But the changes aren’t just to the room; the food placed on the trays — as well as those throughout the district — is a little more colorful as well. As required by the federal Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act, Red Wing Schools are ramping up their emphasis on fruits and vegetables.
“We’ve been doing it over the past few years,” Haase said, adding that they’ve been working to implement the 2010 act’s requirements slowly.
This is “a transition year,” Haase said. That means there will be more substantial changes taking place.
One of the biggest, Haase said, is a larger serving of fruits and vegetables. Previously, elementary school students were served a three-quarter cup of fruits and vegetables a day.
Now they will get a three-quarter cup of vegetables in addition to a half cup of fruit. Serving sizes for middle and high school students are also increased.
“It is a lot more,” Haase said, adding that lunch prices will remain the same despite the larger servings.
In addition, there will be weekly requirements for the number of servings students get for each vegetable category: dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, starchy and other — which include things like cucumbers and cauliflower.
“It’s more like a big puzzle,” Haase said of putting together the menus and making sure each meal has the correct number of servings.
Another big change taking place this year is the implementation of a maximum serving size for grains. That means kids won’t be able get an extra slice of bread with their lunches anymore, she said.
In addition to the federally mandated changes, the district will also be getting a few new local foods from the Farm to School program, which matches local farmers with school districts. Previously, the district bought things like apples, squash, watermelon, turkey patties and hot dogs locally. This year, they’ll add potatoes to that list.
But despite all the changes happening on their lunch trays this year, Haase was sure it wouldn’t even faze the students.
“I really don’t think the kids are going to notice a difference,” she said.