On Religion, The Media and Life as a 20-something in Chicago

LAKE IN THE HILLS — Ten-year-old Denise Bush said the chicken patty sandwich is “mostly my favorite” school lunch. “My mom cooks it, and it’s really good,” she said. Luckily for the pigtailed fourth-grader, that was one of the items on the menu Thursday in the Cool Caf at Lake in the Hills Elementary School, 519 Willow St. And while a chicken patty sandwich might sound unhealthy, the chicken is oven-baked, not deep-fried, with whole wheat breading, according to Scott Rodgers, general manager of Aramark, School District 300’s food service provider. It’s also served on a whole wheat bun, not white bread, he added. Those are part of the changes the district made to its school lunch menus at the end of the 2009-10 school year. They’re also part of the changes coming to lunchrooms across the country, thanks to new school lunch standards approved late last month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “As parents, we try to prepare decent meals, limit how much junk food our kids eat, and ensure they have a reasonably balanced diet,” First Lady Michelle Obama said in a written statement forwarded by the USDA. “And when we’re putting in all that effort, the last thing we want is for our hard work to be undone each day in the school cafeteria. When we send our kids to school, we expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we try to keep them from eating at home. We want the food they get at school to be the same kind of food we would serve at our own kitchen tables.” The first lady announced the new meal requirements a couple weeks ago during a lunchtime visit to an elementary school in Alexandria, Va., with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The changes are the first time those standards have been modified in more than 15 years and will be phased in over three years, starting in the 2012-13 school year, according to the USDA. All are part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by the first lady as part of her Let’s Move! campaign to end childhood obesity and signed into law in 2010 by President Barack Obama. Some of those changes include offering students both fruits and vegetables every day of the week and only fat-free or low-fat milk. They also include increasing whole-grain-rich foods; reducing saturated fat, trans fat and sodium; and limiting calories and portion sizes based on the age of students. Implementing the new standards is expected to cost $3.2 billion over the next five years, the USDA said. With them also will come the first funding increase for school lunches in 30 years — an additional 6 cents per meal, tied to a school’s performance serving the improved meals. They also accompany standards for food and beverages sold in vending machines on school campuses and pricing for school lunches, as well as training and technical assistance to help schools meet the requirements. For the rest of the story, visit The Courier-News. Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.

In Uncategorized on February 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Districts proactive in meeting new school lunch standards (Sun-Times Media)

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