COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo (KRDO) – For the first time in nearly a decade, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced nutrition changes for school districts across the country. The goal is to reduce the amount of sodium and fat in schools. However, District 11 is already ahead of the curve and setting high standards for healthy children.
You don’t have to look far to find D11’s most beloved and feisty employee.
“I love people, kids and students,” says kitchen specialist Teon White.
For nearly a decade, White worked in the Doherty High School kitchen.
“I love all the kids, I know them by name, I know them by heart,” White says. “Working here you teach the kids and when they graduate they will never forget you.”
And it’s quite an operation before the lunch bell rings.
“What we do is we have our cold bar here and the kids come by and they get their main course and then they have their choice of veg and fruit,” says kitchen assistant Lynn Thomas.
More than 20,000 meals are produced in D11 high schools and then distributed every day in middle and primary schools for breakfast and lunch.
But even with the new USDA changes, D11 officials say they won’t have to change much on their menu.
“We created our own guidelines years ago to have better food for kids and foods that were lower in sugar, carbohydrates and sodium,” says Ken Wehri, director of food and nutrition services.
Because feeding hungry kids healthy food is what it’s all about.
“And we step in as a group and we all do it and the task is done, we have the lunches and the kids are ready and everyone is happy,” White said.
The USDA previously updated the School Nutrition Standards in 2012. Below are the changes that will be implemented starting with the fall 2022 school year.
- Milk: Schools and child care providers serving participants age six and older may offer flavored low-fat (1%) milk in addition to non-fat flavored milk and fat-free or low-fat milk. fat;
- Whole grains: At least 80% of the cereals served each week for lunch and breakfast at school must be rich in whole grains; and
- Sodium: The weekly sodium limit for lunch and breakfast at school will remain at the current level during the 2022-2023 school year. For school lunch only, there will be a 10% decrease in the limit during the 2023-2024 school year. This aligns with recently released guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that set voluntary sodium reduction goals for processed, packaged, and prepared foods in the United States.
Additional details about the changes can be read here.