Healthy school cafeteria menus

School Cafeteria

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CLEAR LAKE, Iowa – After just one year, some schools around the country are dropping out of the healthier new federal lunch program, complaining that so many students turned up their noses at the more nutritious meals.

Gone are the days of mystery meat and tuna surprise. If you think know what school menus are all about today, guess again

“At first I was like, ‘What the heck are you doing?”

That’s how Clear Lake High School senior, Zelda Bass reacted when her favorite foods first disappeared from her school cafeteria.

Bass said, “I would mostly grab like pizza or for breakfast I’d take like breakfast pizza. Yeah, not really healthy choices.”

But all that’s changed now. Since last year, those school cafeteria menus have undergone a huge health makeover.

Nutrition Services Director, Lora Jenson said, “The kids always get a choice of fresh or canned fruit, salad, fresh vegetables, and so they get to choose 3 different sides,put that with an entrée and then milk always comes with that.”

In order to receive federal reimbursement, schools are required to set limits on calories and salt, and phase in more whole grains and nutritious foods.

Jenson said, “They told us that every child had to leave the kitchen with a fruit and vegetable on their tray, or else that was not going to be a reimbursable meal.”

Zelda says kids may have to take the fruits and veggies, but that doesn’t always mean they’re actually eating them. Often times, they’ll end up in the trash.

“Because we’re kids we don’t like fruits and veggies? I don’t know because we’ve grown up with unhealthy choices and it’s what we like.”

Lora agrees that needs to change.

She said, “We had a lot of waste, but I think we’re getting better with that now.”

Now that Zelda’s had a whole year to adjust to the changes, she hopes her classmates can get on board the health train too.

“It’s like you would eat anything regularly at home, so just choose what you like and eat it.”

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