New federal guidelines in place for a healthier cafeteria
In accordance with new federal mandates issued during the summer for school cafeterias, a variety of cafeteria snack items will no longer be sold during lunch because they contain levels of fat that exceeded national standards.
The cafeteria no longer will be selling donuts, several varieties of Little Debbie Snacks, popcorn, pretzels, and Regular Lays potato chips. These foods will be replaced by Cool Ranch chips, Nacho Cheese chips, BBQ Baked Lays, Snack Mix, Sun Chips, Fruitsnacks, Cheese-Its, and Peanut-Butter Energy Bars. According to kitchen manager Maddalena Bianchini, the old snacks have been eliminated, but the new snacks have not yet arrived. Many of the new snacks are already available in the vending machines.
The new guidelines, Bianchini says, do not affect Blair, or other Montgomery County schools, as much as schools in other parts of the country because Montgomery County was already "far ahead" in selling healthy foods.
In the newsletter "New and Nutrition," circulated by the MCPS Division of Food and Nutrition Services, a weekly summary of the nutritional value of cafeteria food showed that an average school lunch has 825 calories, 16 g protein, 4.5 mg iron, 400 mg calcium, 300 mg vitamin A, 18 mg vitamin C, the level of total fat calories 30% of less of total calories, and the level of saturated fat calories less than 10% of total calories.
Although there is "always room for improvement," says Bianchini, the work that Montgomery County cafeteria manger Kathy Lazor has done to encourage healthy foods in school cafeterias puts us well ahead of the rest of the country.
According to August 22 Washington Post article, "Goodbye, Junk Food; Hello, Fruits, Veggies," recent reports showing increased levels of adolescent obesity have influenced the federal government to make new restrictions. A recent US Surgeon General's report found that, because most children are not active, the number of obese and overweight children has tripled in the last 20 years. This report is especially unsettling because these children's eating habits put them at greater risks for developing adult-onset diabetes.
Tracy Fox, a registered nutritionist and parent advisor who helped craft the new guidelines, told the Washington Post that the new guidelines will encourage students to see healthy food as more "appealing and convenient" than the more dessert-like items available.
Annie Peirce. Annie Peirce is a senior in the Communications Arts Program and the public relations manager for Silver Chips. She is also an opinions editor for Silver Chips Online. She was born on October 25, 1984, in a hospital somewhere in Prince George's County; but doesn't … More »