Judy Hogg, director of nutrition for the school system, said the changes have been quite a departure from the past.
“The requirements for our meals have changed substantially,” she said.
“The number of grain servings that we offered has now been limited. Protein servings are now limited. We’ve also had a reduction in bread servings.”
Adjusting to the new standards, said Hogg, has been a challenge because of past levels of offerings in each food category.
For example, in the past, children in elementary school could receive up to 15 servings of grains per week, including foods like pasta, rice, flour and cookies.
The standards include age-appropriate calorie limits, larger servings of fruits and vegetables, a wider variety of fruits and vegetables to choose from, fat free or 1 percent milk, no trans fat in any menu item and less sodium.
Hogg said they will be watching the calorie counts closely.
“Before we had to make sure we had enough calories and now we have to make sure we don’t have too many,” she said.
To fall within the standards, Henry County’s nutrition department has had to become creative with menu offerings.
“In the past we could make deli-style sandwiches and put them on a hamburger bun,” she said.
“Now because of the new standards, the hamburger bun counts for too many servings so we use a hotdog bun instead. We’ve gotten some positive comments about that.”
There has, however, been discourse on unpopular aspects of the new standards.
One area would be the lesser degree to which breads are integrated into the menu. Hogg said that the children “miss the rolls” once offered in abundance.
“Last week, we had cinnamon rolls on the menu, along with chili and hotdogs,” said Hogg.
“They could only get the cinnamon roll with the chili. That caused some issues.”
The ample amount of fruits and vegetables provided and whether or not it will increase waste is another area that has drawn concern from students and faculty alike
“There is a lot of that,” said Hogg.
“We are buying twice as much and that worries me because that can only increase the costs.”
Although training has been extensive for those within the nutrition department, Hogg is confident in her staff for attaining the standards set forth.
“Our managers have attended at least three formal training sessions,” she said. “But we are there.”