What New School Food Regulations Mean to Parents & Students

The United States Department of Agriculture announced the first major changes to the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs in 15 years. Implementation of most changes in the National School Lunch Program will begin school year 2012-13. In the School Breakfast Program, changes will be implemented gradually beginning school year 2013-14.

The new regulations closely align with HealthierUS School Challenge guidelines to incorporate more varieties of fruit, dark green and orange vegetables, dry beans and/or peas, whole grains and low-fat and fat-free milk. Opaa! menus are currently designed to meet the meal component of HealthierUS School Challenge so students are already enjoying a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

The new regulations identify five meal components - Meat/Meat Alternates (meat alternates include cheese and certain high-protein vegetables), Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Milk.

Highlights of changes to your lunch program:

  • Self-service of both fruits and vegetables. Students can choose fruits and vegetables that they want and enjoy the foods they choose. The regulations require that at least ½ cup of either a fruit or vegetable is selected each day.
  • Fruit – A variety of fruit choices will be offered daily.
  • Vegetables – Increased variety of vegetables, including subgroups of dark green, red/orange, beans/peas, starchy vegetables & other vegetables will be offered.
  • Meat/Meat Alternate – New daily minimums and weekly minimums and maximums have been established.
  • Whole Grains – At least half of the grains offered will be whole grain rich. Starting school year 2014-15, all grains offered will be whole grain rich.
  • Milk –Unflavored milk can be either 1% low-fat or fat-free. All flavored milk must be fat-free.


Regulations have also been established for calories, fat, trans fat and sodium. The reduction in calories will effectively eliminate our flexibility to offer baked desserts, however; Opaa! will continue to offer our freshly baked whole grain rich breads and hot rolls. Sodium targets will be more gradual, phasing in over a 10-year period of time.

Opaa!’s Wellness and Nutrition Team ensures that menus reflect good menu planning principles, such as serving a variety of healthier foods that look good, taste good and appeal to the students we serve, while keeping your school district in compliance with all USDA regulations.

Mandated Assessment Testing - Boost Student Test Scores through Nutrition

Spring is right around the corner, and with that comes mandated assessment testing. As administrators and board members know, the results of these tests have evolved into a high stakes game that directly impacts a schools accreditation standard. It is vitally important that students have every opportunity to perform at a high level. Eating a nutritious breakfast is one way to ensure that students are ready to focus on the challenging tests that lie before them.

Schools increasingly are discovering the benefits of breakfast in enhancing student performance in the classroom. Many children may not be hungry first thing in the morning; however, by the time they arrive at school they could benefit from a nutrition boost.

Research consistently shows that students benefit from eating a nutritious breakfast prior to beginning the school day. Breakfast can help students perform better in school in a number of ways. Some benefits include more positive attitude towards school, less likely to be tardy, less likely to miss class, improved math and reading scores and fewer reported discipline problems.

More and more schools are discovering the benefits of breakfast and how it can enhance student performance in the classroom.

Several studies suggest that eating breakfast may help children do better in school by
improving:

  • Memory
  • Alertness
  • Concentration
  • Problem-solving Ability
  • Test Scores
  • School Attendance
  • Mood

Research consistently shows that students who start the day hungry have a harder time performing in school. They don’t concentrate as well, they get tired more easily, and they have a hard time making the sustained physical and mental effort that learning requires.

As schools prepare for the upcoming spring assessment tests, we would like to remind school leaders and teachers about Opaa!’s reimbursable breakfasts. The ways to expand breakfast participation during the testing season are numerous, and we look forward to working with your district to provide breakfasts that are nutritious and delicious. Please contact your Director of Nutrition Services if you would like assistance in planning or customizing a breakfast program to fit your specific spring assessment testing schedule.

USDA Announces New Breakfast and Lunch Guidelines

The United States Department of Agriculture announced changes to the School Lunch and Breakfast program Wednesday, January 25th. This is the first major change to the lunch and breakfast program in 15 years. Implementation of most meal requirements in the National School Lunch Program will begin school year 2012-13. In the School Breakfast Program, meal requirements will be implemented gradually beginning school year 2013-14.

The new regulations closely align with HealthierUS School Challenge guidelines to incorporate more varieties of fruit, dark green and orange vegetables, dry beans and/or peas, whole grains and low-fat and fat-free milk.

Opaa! menus are designed to meet the school meals component of HealthierUS School Challenge. Our menus reflect good menu planning principles, such as serving a variety of healthier foods that look good, taste good and appeal to the cultural sensitivities of our school and community populations. Opaa! menus have been created to provide students a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, dry beans and whole grains. Opaa! continues to serve only low-fat and fat-free milk and milk products.

While additional fruit, vegetable and grain servings will be required with the new regulations, the changes Opaa! has made in recent years position our clients well to be in full compliance for school year 2012.

Highlights of changes to the School Lunch Program:

  • Fruit – More daily servings of fruit will be offered
  • Vegetables – More daily servings of vegetables will be offered to include vegetables from subgroups of dark green, red/orange, beans/peas, starchy vegetables and other vegetables as defined in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • Meat/Meat Alternate – New daily minimums and weekly ranges have been set for three age/grade groups K-5, 6-8 and 9-12.
  • Whole Grains – At least half the grains offered must be whole grain rich beginning school year 2012. Beginning school year 2014, all grains offered must be whole grain rich.
  • Milk – Must be fat-free (unflavored/flavored) or 1% low fat (unflavored). Beginning school year 2012, all flavored milk served must be fat free.

Highlights of changes to the School Breakfast Program:

  • Fruit – More daily servings of fruit will be offered with a vegetable
    substitution allowed.
  • Grains & Meat/Meat Alternates – A new daily minimum and weekly ranges for grains and meat/meat alternates have been set for three age/grade groups K-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Schools may substitute Meat/Meat Alternate after the minimum daily grain requirements
    are met.
  • Whole Grain – At least half of the grains offered must be whole grain-rich beginning school year 2013. Beginning school year 2014, all grains offered must be whole grain rich.
  • Milk – Must be fat-free (unflavored/flavored) or 1% low fat (unflavored). Beginning school year 2012, all flavored milk served must be fat free.

Dietary specifications (to be met on average over a week) have been set for calories, fat, trans fat and sodium. Calorie ranges for minimum and maximum targets have been set based on three age/grade groups K-5, 6-8, 7-12. The target for saturated fat remains unchanged, while the new target for trans fat is zero grams per portion, other than naturally occurring trans fat. Sodium targets will be more gradual, phasing in over a 10 year period of time.

 

 

“At-Risk” After School Meal Program Meets Critical Need

The “At-Risk After School Snack and Supper Program” is available to meet critical needs for students and their families in your school districts. This program provides funding for snacks and suppers in organized after school programs for school districts with a free and reduced enrollment of at least 50%. This program has proven to provide children not only needed nutrition, but has also been shown to help reduce or prevent children’s involvement in high-risk behaviors. At-Risk After School Programs provide the added benefits of:

  • Improving the health and well-being of the children they serve
  • Ensuring that children fully benefit from the educational and enrichment activities
  • Counter the childhood obesity epidemic by providing healthy supper meals as well as nutrition education


Ava R-I Superintendent, Dr. Brian Wilson, commented on the At-Risk After School Meal Program. “In these unprecedented economic times, the Ava R-I School District is not immune to the effects of this downward economic trend, nor are our patrons. With a free/reduced percentage nearing 70% and on the rise, one comfort that can be found in Douglas County is the opportunity for our children to receive
three nutritious meals per day at an affordable price! Prior to educating students, we must first be able to provide the basic essentials. I truly believe with our after-school program, we are continuing to guarantee another extended effort in meeting the essential necessities of our children and community.”

Snack and Supper Meals can be provided free of charge to students, in school districts with 50% Free and Reduced Enrollment.

Your district may have this same opportunity to provide children and families additional assistance by participating in the “At-Risk After School Snack and Supper Program.” Meals and snacks are well balanced and provide the appropriate amount of energy and nutrients a child needs during critical stages of growth.

Contact your Director of Nutrition Services to learn more about this program and how Opaa! can assist you with implementing an At-Risk After School Meal program in your district.

Is Your School Ready To Take The Challenge?

HealthierUS School Challenge was established by USDA to recognize schools that are creating healthier school environments through their promotion of good nutrition, physical activity and nutrition education. The HealthierUS School Challenge application process is as simple as meeting the criteria for each of the three areas listed below:

1. School Meals — Serve Opaa! school lunch menus
2. Nutrition Education — Provide students with a variety of nutrition education opportunities
3. Physcial Activity — Provide students with physical education and additional opportunities for students to be engaged in physical activity


Opaa! is actively partnering with our school districts to apply for HealthierUS School Challenge certification. Opaa! school lunch menus meet the school meal components of the HealthierUS School Challenge requirements for certification compliance.

Take advantage of Opaa!’s value added service to guide you through the application process.

Our menus have been reviewed by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the United Sates Department of Agriculture (USDA) Regional Office in Denver, Colorado. By meeting the guidelines of the school meals component, schools served by Opaa! may seek HealthierUS School Challenge certification in their districts.

Opaa! menus are designed to reflect good menu planning principles, such as serving a variety of healthier foods that look good, taste good, and appeal to the cultural sensitivities of our school and community populations. Opaa! menus have been created to provide students a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Opaa! continues to serve only fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.

Schools receiving certification will receive a recognition plaque, monetary award and award banner from USDA to display in your school to showcase your schools achievement. Take advantage of Opaa!’s value added service to guide you through this application process by contacting your Director of Nutrition Services.

Get the application started today. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!