Forget greasy pizza, say goodbye to hot dogs and french fries, some big changes are coming to school cafeterias this fall, and it's all for the sake of better health.
The USDA's new standards for healthier school meals make significant changes to cafeteria menus nationwide. The federal requirements mean that school lunches will now be served with fewer calories, larger servings of fruits and vegetables, less sodium and fat, and more whole grains.
"We know as adults we need to eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, so we're just trying to implement that in our schools with our meals for our kids," said Adele Lillie, child nutrition program director for the Robbinsdale School District.
The school lunch changes are designed to promote healthier eating habits, reduce obesity, and lower the risk of diseases like diabetes.
Linda Rancour has worked in school kitchens for 22 years. As a lunch lady at Plymouth Middle School this fall, Rancour says she will have her work cut out for her trying to encourage adolescent students to take another helping of vegetables.
"It's going to be a challenge," said Rancour. "We try to make it look nice, and we do try and tell them to at least try it."
While the servings of fruits and vegetables are increasing, portion control is in place for the proteins. Last year's three-ounce hamburger in the Robbinsdale District is now a two-ounce version, said Lillie. And most days that burger will come with greens, not french fries.
Alexandra Renslo reporting
August 23, 2012