Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake schools leave national lunch program
(Example from BH-BL) BEFORE: An elementary lunch with three chicken nuggets, 10 smiley french fries, a muffin, carrots, applesauce and milk met the NSLP guidelines but not children's preferences.
(Example from BH-BL) AFTER: Boehm predicts five chicken nuggets, six smiley fries, a fresh salad, applesauce, milk and a mini pack of whole wheat graham crackers will be both healthy and more appetizing to kids.
BURNT HILLS, N.Y. - The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Board of Education has
voted to leave the National School Lunch Program starting in September due to
"hungry, frustrated children plus lost income."
The decision, they say, was made as a result of problems with the new lunch
regulations that took effect September 2012 in the National School Lunch
Program. In a release they say, "You can offer nutritious, healthy foods,
but you can't make kids eat them or like them."
The board says they feel the district's food service manager could do a
better job of providing lunches in the district's five schools if she were no
longer burdened with the regulations that come with participation in the
National School Lunch Program.
"There were just too many problems and too many foods that students did
not like and would not purchase," Assistant Superintendent Chris Abdoo
Abdoo says the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake lunch program lost around $100,000
last school year. He says sales declined especially in the high school where
"students felt they weren't getting good value for their money" and
more students would bring their lunch from home.
Abdoo believes most parents will be pleased with the change, and pleased to
see the return of some favorite food items and some larger portion sizes in
Parents will have 60 days to share their comments with the district before
the change takes effect with the opening of school in September.
Schools are not required to participate in the NSLP, but most schools do in
order to receive financial incentives, including low cost federal commodity
foods and partial reimbursement of the cost of food served to students who
qualify for free and reduced priced meals.
BH-BL will continue to offer free lunches and reduced price lunches for
students whose families meet the federal income guidelines for these.
The price for complete lunches will increase by 25 cents in September since
prices have not increased in two years, the district says. A complete lunch
including milk will now cost $2.50 for elementary students, $3.00 for secondary
students (whose portion sizes are larger), and $4.00 for adults.
The food service manager Nicky Boehm says the district will still offer
healthy options that fall within the calorie guidelines, similar to what was
required under the national program, but that more students will actually
purchase and eat. Boehm says they look forward to no longer being forced to
plan each week's menus to fit into a rigid set of regulations regarding
specific types and serving sizes of food.
"We'll offer five components that are much more appetizing in size and
looks. I want to serve more fresh fruits and vegetables and less of the canned,
commodity fruits and vegetables," Nicky Boehm says. "I want to return
to some of the menus that students love, like different types of salads, wraps
and sandwiches, especially at the high school. Taco salad is one of our kids'
all-time favorites and it's so healthy, so why not offer it more often?"
The national lunch program required schools to serve students at least
one-half cup of each of the five groups of vegetables (dark green, red/orange,
dried beans/peas, "starchy," and "other" vegetables) at
least once a week. And vegetables must be served alone in a separate cup rather
than incorporated into a soup, salad or taco filling, Boehm says , in order to
prove that the student was getting at least a half-cup serving. Boehm also ran
into trouble with the rigidity of the protein and grain requirements.
Elementary student lunches could contain no more than 10 ounces of the
"protein" component per week.
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