In 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released new rules to boost the nutritional quality of school lunches. The first major revision in 15 years, the rules took effect this fall requiring schools to offer more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, reduce the sodium content of school meals substantially over time, control saturated fat and calorie levels, and minimize trans-fat. Lunch manager Dee Taylor believes the nutrition requirements are a step forward.
“I think it is a good thing that students have to eat healthy at school, because they eat any kind of way at home,” Taylor said.
Taylor says they have known the new requirements were coming and have been switching to whole grains and healthier options slowly to not shock students.
“One day there’s all this, as they say, unhealthy food,” Taylor said. “And, then there we are pushing this brown bread and brown rice.”
The lunch program receives funding whenever a student buys a combo meal. There are different combo requirements for the regular lunch line and the salad bar. In order to receive the combo price in the morning for breakfast, the student has to have a fruit, and for a lunch combo, the student has to have a fruit or a vegetable. In order to receive the combo price in the salad bar, the student has to have 8 to 12oz of salad and 2oz of protein.
Senior Lexi McCarty thinks that since the salad bar is set up in a different way, the rules should be different.
“It’s supposed to be a buffet style,” McCarty said. “We should be able to get what we want.”
The rules also apply to the items available in vending machines which have to be off during school hours. Snacks that are deemed unhealthy and all sugar drinks were taken out.
“If they are only turned on at 3, how are kids supposed to get a snack before practice?” McCarty said.
Bake sale fundraisers must also meet the nutritional guidelines to be sold during school hours. HOSA’s Otis Spunkmeyer Cookies can no longer be sold during school hours, and now will be sold on Tuesdays after school. Health and Nursing teacher Margaret Blevins says HOSA is finding new ways to raise money and will still be able to donate money to important projects like Operations Smile, which peforms plastic surgery on children with cleft lips. HOSA will also Auntie Anne’s pretzels on Thursdays after school on the bus ramp and in front of the school.
“The Otis Spunkmeyer cookies have been sort of a tradition,” Blevins said. “HOSA and DECA have been selling them for years.”
Blevins says that the new regulations “are what they are” but thinks that if the school is going to be healthy, then it should be healthy all the way around.
“If we are going to take sugar drinks out of the vending machines, then we should take the artificial drinks out, too,” Blevins said.
Junior Abram Baer says that age and maturity should be factors in deciding what to include in the vending machines.
“We are high school students,” Baer said. “We should be able to decide what we want to eat.”
~Emma Spector, Photography Director