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Catherine Holecko

Changes in the school cafeteria

By August 24, 2011

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Boys eat lunch in school cafeteriaSchool hasn't started yet for my kids, but I'll be interested to see the lunch menus when they're available (I already know there's going to be a new salad bar!). Because of the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act at the end of last year, school meal programs across the U.S. will undergo some big changes in the coming months, thanks to new nutritional standards. In any case, the start of the school year is a good time to talk to your kids about what's on their lunch menu and guide them toward good choices.

It's also important to talk to the hardworking staff that creates that menu. Like what you see? Let them know. Don't like it? Help make it better. "We are fighting too," one school nutrition director recently wrote to me. "We want the best for children too. Budgets are tight. We need parents to communicate to their senators and representatives that healthier school meals are a priority and need to be funded adequately. In my county, the cost to make a meal is over $3.00. We receive only $2.68 for a student on free/reduced meals and $2.26 for a full-paying student. We manage to get fresh fruits and vegetables on our menu daily at the expense of cutting labor in the cafeterias to balance our budget."

Do you have questions about the school lunch program or how to pack healthy school lunches at home? Let me know and I'll help find the answers.

Photo: PhotoLink/Getty Images

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