Sammamish, Issaquah Schools Say Fruits, Vegetables Must Be on Students' Plates

Still considering school lunch options? What do you think of the new rules for cafeteria lunches and the way local school districts are implementing them?

The  (LWSD) and the Issaquah School District are adopting new nutrition rules for students this school year following changes made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

A news release posted on the LWSD website and a letter sent to Issaquah District parents (attached here as a pdf file) highlight what the new guidelines will mean for students. From the Lake Washington School District:

Every student will be required to take a full portion of at least three of those five components and at least one of them has to be fruit or vegetables. They must take at least half a cup of the fruit and/or vegetables, though larger portions will be available.

For example, a student who selects a meat item, a grain item and a milk item will have to add or substitute a fruit or vegetable. They could, however, choose just the fruit, vegetable and milk items and still meet the new requirements.

They can take four or all five components as well as just three: food services staff will encourage them to take all five. You may want to have a conversation with your student about why a variety of foods is a healthy choice.

Other changes include more regular offerings of vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Starting this year, 50 percent of all grains served during lunch must be whole grains. By 2014, that figure must increase to 100 percent for both breakfast and lunch.

The Issaquah School District notes that it will be serving fat-free unflavored or flavored, and 1 percent unflavored milk with cafeteria lunches;  emphasizing the healthiest, dark green and red or orange veggies; and reducing sodium in lunch offerings.

What do you think of the new rules? Is it a good idea to require kids to eat their fruits and veggies—or at least put them on their plates?

Kat September 01, 2012 at 05:46 AM
Fantastic! A step closer towards healthier eating for our community's children.
Jeanne Gustafson September 01, 2012 at 03:10 PM
I'm with you, Kat, because I know my son often eats his vegetables first if they're on his plate, but would never actually visit his school's salad bar to get them. However, I've seen comments in other areas from people who predict a lot of wasted food because of the changes.
Geoff Hazel September 05, 2012 at 05:44 PM
If a child doesn't want veggies but they won't let him through the line without them, then the logical thing to do is say "sure, I'll take veggies" and then toss them. You can put veggies on their plate but you can't force them to eat them. I suppose that by putting them on the plate, at least SOME percentage of kids will nibble or eat them, so you're a little further ahead, but it would be very interesting to do a garbage analysis once a month to see how much is getting thrown away vs. eaten.
Jeanne Gustafson September 05, 2012 at 10:06 PM
That is a good point, Geoff, and I hope the districts do analyses. I also think that as a parent, giving my own son free reign over what he ate without putting the good stuff on the plate would be the greater evil over some extra biodegradable waste. It will be interesting to see how this initiative affects Green Schools programs, such as the Issaquah School District's, which earned recognition from King County in the spring of 2012. Here are the details of the honor at the time, which bring into play what you mention in your comment: At 21 of the district’s 24 schools, food scraps and other compostable materials are collected for composting and transported to a composting facility. Issaquah School District also practices waste reduction strategies, including replacement of plastic-wrapped utensils and straws with an individual selection of unwrapped utensils. With the district’s “offer and select” policy, students are not required to select food items that they do not intend to eat. The district also has a food purchasing system that reduces the amount of leftover food that must be disposed or donated, and it donates any food items leftover at the end of the school year that will reach expiration date before they can be consumed.


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