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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • USD 443 assures the change is minimal

  • The new requirements for school lunches have sparked debate across the country, and Kansas legislature and residents aren't keeping quiet.
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  • The new requirements for school lunches have sparked debate across the country, and Kansas legislature and residents aren't keeping quiet.
    Kansas Congressmen Tim Huelskamp issued a challenge to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday asking the USDA to embrace the school lunch mandates in its own cafeteria.
    According to the USDA website, the goals of the restrictions, which stem from the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act passed in 2010, are as follows:
    -ensure students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week;
    -substantially increase offerings of whole grain-rich foods;
    -offer only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties;
    -limiting calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size; and
    -increase the focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.
     The regulations took effect this school year.
    “If the USDA demands that 100,000 school districts change their menus and justifies this mandate because schools receive federal money for lunches, then taxpayers should demand that the USDA cafeteria meet the same standards, as USDA operates in taxpayer-funded buildings,” Huelskamp said Tuesday afternoon. “Let's see if they eat enough to function. Let's see if they like having choices taken away from them.”
    Kansas Senator Pat Roberts also requested answers to questions about the program's implementation.
    Roberts outlined several issues his constituents have with the new requirements in a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The letter addressed the waste of the required fruits and vegetables as a result of children throwing them away as well as “insufficient” calories for active students and athletes. He also pointed out the threat of schools dropping out of the program.
    “I agree that improving the nutrition in school meals is a challenge deserving our attention,” Roberts wrote in the letter. “However, now that school districts have begun implementing the new standards, students, parents and administrators across the country are raising many concerns with the new rule.”
    In yesterday's weekly article Facebook Friday, Globe readers responded with their opinions of the regulations.
    Chanda Moore Hudson was one of the many who shared  their thoughts. Hudson questioned the rationality in serving an active male athlete the same amount as a petite female.
    “My son is being starved because somebody is power hungry," she said.
    Patty Ahern, another reader, has a different opinion of the rules and said the issue of luch restrictions would exist if  parents would teach kids how to be healthy instead of eating fast food and junk food.
    Despite the openness of views on Facebook, Kathy Konrade, nutrition supervisor for USD 443 said she hasn't received any phone calls from parents about the changes. In fact, the only change her staff has made in school lunches is in the size of the portions they serve.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We are using the same recipes we have been using for the last 10 or 15 years,” Konrade said. “Our bierocks are the same, our hot ham and cheese, our chili.”
    Konrade said the district added more fruits and vegetables to lunch trays before this year's restrictions were implemented. Whole grains were also part of the menu before it was mandated.
    “It's a rule now that kids have to have a fruit or vegetable on their tray, which is something we were already pushing. They just have to have take a larger quantity  now,” she said.
    In regard to the national claims that students are throwing out more food than before, Konrade said the kids have always thrown out food and will continue to do so.
    “Our system is set up so kids chose what they want to eat, we just make sure they take a fruit or vegetable.
    She also acknowledged complaints of kids going home hungry, but said unsatisfied students is a result of the time they eat lunch rather than what or how much they are served.
    “We know kids do go home hungry, but when they eat lunch at 11 a.m. and sometimes don't go home until after 4 p.m., they are going to be hungry.”
    As always, students are allowed to bring a sack lunch to school or a snack to combat frustration with school lunches.
    Reach Abigail Wilson at (620) 408-9917 or e-mail her at abigail.wilson@dodgeglobe.com.

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