New Breakfast Changes

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is a major step forward in the fight to end childhood hunger, improve nutrition, and fight childhood obesity. Last school year brought about significant changes to the school lunch program. The start of the 2013-14 school year marks the beginning of the changes to the school breakfast program, which are much less dramatic.

The Wellness & Nutrition Team at Opaa! has been working toward the new breakfast changes for several years. Because of those gradual modifications, your students will see very little change in our breakfast menus this school year. We believe breakfast is the most important meal of the day and our menus are developed with this in mind.

Our 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, while keeping your school district in compliance with all USDA regulations. Encouraging students to begin their learning day with a healthy breakfast begins with offering a menu that is inviting to them.

New changes to the school breakfast program for the 2013-14 school year include:

  • Planning meals from three good groups: Grains, Fruit/Vegetable, and Milk
  • Age/Grade Groups – Three age/grade groups (K-5, 6-8 and 9-12)
  • Meat/Meat Alternate - Meat/meat alternate can be served in place of a portion of the grain after the daily grain minimum has been met.
  • Grain – Half of the grain served must be whole grain-rich (>50% whole grain)
  • Milk – Schools must offer only fat-free (unflavored or flavored) or low-fat (unflavored) milk
  • Calories – New weekly calorie minimums and maximums have been established
  • Trans Fat – Zero trans-fat can be served

At the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, the following additional breakfast changes will be implemented:

  • Grains – Starting 2014-15, all grains served must be whole grain-rich
  • Fruit - The fruit serving for grades K-12 increases from 1/2 cup to 1 cup
  • Vegetables at Breakfast – Vegetables may be substituted for fruit, but the first 2 cups must be from the dark green, red/orange, peas (legumes) or other sub group.
  • Required to meet the first sodium target

The Opaa! staff looks forward to a year of sharing healthy breakfast meals that your students will enjoy all year long!

New Guidelines for Vending Machines, A la carte, And School Stores

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires USDA to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in school beyond the federally-supported school meals programs. Competitive foods is defined as “all food and beverages sold to students on the school campus during the school day”. The newly proposed rule targets food sold through a la carte lines, vending machines and school stores. There are also new restrictions for school fundraisers during the school day.

The purpose of the proposed changes are to improve the health and well-being of the Nation’s children, increase consumption of healthful foods during the school day and create an environment that reinforces the development of healthy eating habits. Highlights of USDA’s proposed rule include:

  • Provide healthy snack foods with fruit, vegetable, dairy, protein or whole grain-rich foods as the main ingredient.
  • Ensuring snack food items offered are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans by meeting guidelines for calories, fat, sugar, and sodium.
  • Limiting beverages sold during meal service periods to water, fat free and low-fat milk and 100% juice in specified quantities for elementary, middle school and high school age students.
  • Any accompaniments to food items such as salad dressing and ketchup must be pre-portioned and offered only when food is sold. The accompaniments must also be included in the nutrient profile as part of the item served and meet all proposed standards.
  • Standards affect foods sold on school campus during the school day. Foods sold at afterschool sporting events or other activities will not be subject to the new requirements.

The standards will not go into effect until at least one full school year after public comment is considered and an implementing rule is published to ensure schools and vendors have adequate time to adapt. The text of the proposed rule is available at USDA will accept public comment through until April 9, 2013.

The Wellness & Nutrition Team at Opaa! will continue to review the details of the newly proposed competitive food regulations and provide feedback through the public comment process.

DESE is now ready to begin accepting documentation to apply for the additional six cent reimbursement. Opaa! is in the process of completing the USDA worksheets for each meal pattern/grade group in your district along with the nutrient analysis for the week of October 1, 2012. Opaa! will provide customized worksheets and nutrient analysis to all school districts by November 9, 2012. Your school district must submit the application and required documents for reimbursement no later than November 30, 2012, to receive the additional 6 cent reimbursement retroactive payment available effective October 1, 2012. After your application and documentation have been submitted, DESE has 60 days to review your information for certification.

Follow the step-by-step process below to complete your application.

  • Step 1 – Six Cent Certification Video
    Watch Six Cent Certification Video on the DESE website. (6 minutes)

  • Step 2 – Six Cent Certification PowerPoint
    Print Six Cent Certification PowerPoint to use as a guide in completing the application process on-line. The PowerPoint is provided on the link below.

  • Step 3 – Attestation of Compliance with Meal Pattern Requirement
    Complete Attestation of Compliance with Meal Pattern Requirement Form & save as file. The form is provided on the link below.

  • Step 4 –Application Agreement
    Check the Application Agreement for your district. Make sure “food based menu planning” is the method used for breakfast. If not, amend your application to indicate food based menu planning for breakfast.

  • Step 5 – Menu Worksheets & Nutrient Analysis
    The Opaa! Director of Nutrition Services will provide you with an electronic copy of menu worksheets and nutrient analysis customized for each meal pattern/grade group in your district. Save each of these documents as an electronic file to be uploaded during the application process. The documents listed below will be provided by your DNS:
    • Lunch – Menu worksheets for each grade group
    • Lunch – Nutrient analysis for each grade group
    • Breakfast – Menu worksheet for each grade group

  • Step 6 – October Menu
    Scan a copy of the October 2012 menu for each building in your district and save each building menu as an electronic file to be uploaded during the application process.

  • Step 7 – Access DESE SFS Web Application System
    Complete the application online using the PowerPoint entitled “Submitting 6 Cent Certification Documents – 6 Cent Certification Rule” as your step-by-step guide.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 made significant changes to the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program. School lunches served beginning school year 2012-13 must comply with the new meal pattern requirements. The new rule requires state agencies to certify those school districts that are in compliance with meal pattern and nutrition standard requirements as eligible to receive an additional 6 cents for each reimbursable lunch served. The additional reimbursement is available to school districts beginning October 1, 2012.

How Do I Apply For the Additional 6 Cent Reimbursement?

  • Submit to the State agency one week of each type of menu offered in your district
  • Submit nutrient analyses of the submitted menus
  • Submit a detailed menu worksheet provided by USDA which shows food items and quantities which will be used to assess compliance with the updated meal pattern.
  • School districts must attest that the documentation provided is representative of the ongoing meal service within the school district.

How Will Opaa! Assist Our District In Applying For the Additional 6 Cent Reimbursement?

  • Opaa! will provide your district with a one week menu of each type of menu offered in your district in October
  • Opaa! will provide your district with a nutrient analysis of the submitted October menu Opaa! will provide menu and nutrient analysis documentation required to apply for the HHFKA additional six cent reimbursement.
  • Opaa! will provide your district with a customized USDA menu worksheet for the submitted October menu
  • Opaa! will continue to communicate with the state agency to notify districts when they can begin submitting documentation to apply for the additional 6 cent reimbursement. At this time, DESE has not given guidance on how to submit documentation.

How soon will my application be approved and when can I expect to receive the additional reimbursement?

  • The State agency must review certification materials and make determination within 60 days of receipt of documentation from the school district.
  • Upon certification, the State agency must reimburse the school district with the additional 6 cents beginning in the start of the month in which certified menus are served. For example, if menus are submitted for October, additional reimbursement will be given beginning October 1, 2012. State Agency Validation Reviews
  • State agencies will be required to conduct on-site validation reviews for a random sample of 25 percent of certified school districts.
  • If your district is selected, state agencies are required to review meal service for each type of certified menu, production records for observed meals to ensure they are consistent with the menus submitted for certification and documentation submitted for certification to ensure ongoing meal service is consistent with certification documentation.

Opaa!’s Best Practices Keep Your Students and Staff Safe

At Opaa! we take food safety very seriously! Opaa! takes great pride in offering a quality meal program that is both nutritious and safe for students and staff. Steps taken to ensure a safe foodservice program include meeting all standards for HACCP, ServSafe food safety certification of all Directors of Nutrition Services and Kitchen Managers, staff development through monthly in-service training for all foodservice employees and county health inspections.

HACCP is an acronym for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. Our HACCP plan is used to control risks and hazards throughout the flow of food, from the moment the food is manufactured to the time it is served to our customers. Daily, weekly, and monthly records are maintained in our kitchens to monitor a variety of areas including: food temperatures during production and meal service, sanitizer strength in dish machines, and ware washing stations and equipment temperature logs. This documentation is reviewed by our kitchen managers and Director of Nutrition Services on a regular basis.  

Opaa! minimizes the risk of food borne illness by certifying all Directors of Nutrition Services and the Kitchen Managers in each building through the ServSafe™ food safety training program. Servsafe™ is nationally recognized as the universal leader in food safety training. Certification is awarded to those that successfully complete the course study and exam. Areas covered in the class include identifying potential hazards to food from the first stage of production to service.

Monthly employee in-service training meetings are conducted to better develop our employee’s understanding of best practices with food safety. Utilizing such tools as a weekly safety checklist, each employee is assigned a task such as checking to make sure all food is labeled and dated, equipment is cleaned and sanitized, food temperatures are recorded properly, and food and supplies are stored correctly.

Finally, we strive to develop a strong relationship with our county health inspectors. All school kitchens are mandated to receive two health inspections per school year. Rather than viewing these periodic inspections as negative, we embrace the partnership with health inspectors as a way to provide technical support and guidance regarding best practices. Food safety awareness requires continual training, communication and commitment. Keeping service safe is a number one priority for ALL Opaa! employees.