CLAFLIN —Although complaints arose from the new school lunch guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that were implemented in schools across the country this year, USD 112 students are becoming used to it. Plus, Family and Consumer Teacher Sharon Cooper is using the lunches as a teaching tool for students each day.
The student fill out a poster with the lunch menu that is placed upon the wall near the front office. There is also a poster in the lunch room.
The students read off the menu and, using an erasable marker, mark which food item satisfies a category in the MyPlate nutrition guide.
“It makes kids more aware,” said Cooper. “The cooks asked if we would do it.”
The categories include:
•Vegetables such as tomato, Mexican corn, salsa and romaine lettuce.
•Dairy which is milk.
•Grains including whole wheat rolls, shell of burrito or whole grain corn chips.
•Protein such as beef bean burritos.
•Fruit including apple wedges.
“At first, it was not enough food, but now it’s okay,” the students said.
Cooper said that she thought the students had begun to adjust to the changes.
“No salt, no sugar,” was what student Julee McAtee missed.
The cooks have worked with the students. “The cooks have revised the menu.” Cooper said the students wrote what they liked and didn’t like as part of a survey, and the cooks changed their menus accordingly.
“Nobody liked sweet potato fries,” said McAtee.
More fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits are being served and food preparation has changed with the increased use of fresh produce.
The students even admitted they had learned to like romaine lettuce in salad.
They still miss some foods. McAtee said, “It’s the reduced salt and ketchup (that she missed). It’s a sad change.”
“I like more meat like the way my parents cook,” said Karli Beck, another student.
The students thought that there was not as much food in the trash as there was at the first of the year.
“Kids were hungry and weren’t used to the change,” said Cooper. “There’s not as many desserts. Nobody likes change. All changes are hard.”
The students have learned that since there is nothing they can change in the program, they can make personal changes.
“I’ve learned to change how I eat,” said McAtee.
One change they’ve learned is to, “eat more breakfast,” said Beck.
“Our cooks have had to work really hard to make it work,” said Cooper. “My concern at first was seeing a lot of junk food especially at the high school where students can go to the convienence store.”
She now sees the students making adjustments. “There is not as much grumbling,” said Cooper.
“I think the lunch changes are good for these kids,” she said.
Cook Lisa Minzer weighed in on the changes. “We work hard to keep the food in the guidelines,” she said. “It’s not been too bad. The kids are adjusting.”
The cooks said sometimes they feel like they are the police when they have to make sure the students have fruit on their plate.
Minzer said they had started using white wheat which the students liked better than the more bitter red wheat. “We’ve been doing wheat for a lot of years,” she said. “Now we do more from scratch. We make all of our breads. We make all of our own cookies.”
“We used to double the amount of bread. Now, we’re making rolls smaller than we used to,” Mizner said. “The students are getting used to the changes. We’re not hearing complaints of being hungry.
“They shouldn’t be hungry, they can go back to the salad bar,” she said.
Superintendent Steve Woolf that the kids at the high school an middle school we’re active kids and initially the calorie counts weren’t enough. He said they have been given more leeway for what fits into the school culture, keeping the guidelines as much as they can and doing what is right for kids.