'Please sir, I want some more'
Fri, 21 Sep 2012 20:55:45 GMT —
Grumbling stomachs are being found more frequently in area schools after changes to school lunches.
Few parents object to serving their kids fresh fruits and vegetables, but some parents do object to the new federal guidelines for school lunch portions, and menu options.
"I feel that my children are being punished for something that they're not. They're being punished for other children that are overweight and my children are not overweight," Mother of three, Shannon Jackson said.
She likes the idea of adding whole wheat bread and fresh produce to her children's lunches, but she is concerned that smaller portions aren't filling up her kids.
"They're hungry. They come in, and one is hanging out of the refrigerator and one is hanging out of the pantry ..." Jackson explained.
Jackson's concern grew when her elementary school student said he got only one chicken strip at lunch. Kindergarten through 5th grade students get a maximum of 8 to 10 ounces of meat weekly.
"We're serving the kind of food we would like our own children to eat and the combination is what we all think is going to be the nutritional standard for everyone down the line," West Prairie Superintendent Johnathon Heerboth said.
He explained that they do not serve less food, just a different variety of food. That will not change. The school district will be audited to make sure they follow new national guidelines for healthy eating. Heerboth ate lunch at the high school and felt that he had more food than he could finish on the new meal plan.
A typical elementary school lunch looks like the tray pictured. Food Supervisor Jan Lester spent 18 years making school lunches, and she spent hours of her free time planning meals she thinks the kids would eat. She does not see the new regulations as a problem, but more of a transition.
"We're doing a lot of experimenting this first month of school and we're tracking what the kids like, what they don't like and we'll tweak the menu as we go," Lester said.
Students are still free bring their own lunches, but that might not be an option for all families.
"Some children, that's the only real meal they get in a day and they don't have a parent at home to cook for them or to provide a decent meal," Jackson said.
The new meal program also targets calories, sodium, and fat.
Cost is a factor for the healthier lunches.
Schools get six cents extra per meal, but the actual cost of the food is much higher.
How do you feel about your child's lunches this year? Sound off in our comments below or on our Facebook page here.