Local students are seeing big changes after the USDA announced new school lunch requirements for every school in the country.
“The schools have certain items, or five meal components, to offer each day; a protein or meat, meat alternative item, a grain, vegetables, fruits and then milk,” says Food and Nutrition Services Supervisor, Micki Carrington.
Under the new requirement, a calorie level is put on the whole meal based on those five components. The calories are different for each age group. At the high school level, students must take a cup of fruit and a cup of vegetables as part of their school lunch.
“In Davenport that means that they can take 2 fruits and 2 vegetables because all of our items are in 1/2 cup servings,” says Carrington.
Carrington says most students are only taking the minimal food requirements.
“It would be really nice if people took advantage of the whole cup full of each item,” says Carrington.
But some people are happy with the new changes.
“I’ve been eating the school lunches for 28 years, so it’s kind of a smorgasbord when you can actually choose two fruits, two vegetables,” says North High School teacher Betty Christian.
Christian thinks it’s just a matter of time before the students get use to the new changes.
“At first they didn’t want to take them but now they’re like, ‘Ohhhhhhh, I think I like this now,’” says Christian.
Carrington says not all students are able to get the nutritional value they need at home.
“A lot of families that are food insecure may not have the ability to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, where the school meal program allows to provide those all to the students,” says Carrington.
The USDA is awarding grants to 18 states to help schools get the word out about the new food program. Illinois and Iowa will both receive the grant.