Claremore Daily Progress

August 27, 2013

Changes being made to school meals

Mark Friedel
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE —

Claremore students will begin to see some more changes this year when it comes to healthy meals at school. 
Through the implementation of Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is highlighting a number of department efforts to promote a healthy learning environment for students in rural schools across the country.
Claremore Schools began issuing school meal updates last year, said Pamela Watson, Sodexo general manager for Claremore Public Schools Child Nutrition.
Updates included guidelines for school lunches, providing a better availability to foods with a healthier calorie level. 
According to information provided by Sodexo Foods, every meal now consists of five components: whole grains, meat/meat alternatives, fruit, vegetable and milk. In order to be considered a student meal, students must select three of the five components. 
The first phase of the updated School Breakfast Program is being implemented this year, said Watson. Updates will provide students with more whole grains, milk with lower fat content and correctly-sized meals appropriate for the calorie needs of students of all ages.
Watson said a one-half cup of fruit will be added to breakfast meals, and beginning next year, fruit offerings will be increased to a whole cup.
The updated meal patterns are specifications developed by the Food and Nutrition service, used to certify school food authorities (SFAs) who demonstrate compliance with the healthy meal pattern requirements. 
Schools that demonstrate compliance become certified by the USDA and receive an additional 6-cents per lunch reimbursement.
According to background information provided by the USDA, the reimbursement is expected to encourage SFAs to implement the updated requirements as quickly as possible.
SFAs must submit documentation, including menus and nutrient analysis for each menu, as well as an attestation in writing that shows the documentation submitted is accurate, and healthy meals are available to students in every serving line. 
Improvements to the school meal programs are based on recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.
“Claremore Schools have done an excellent job in the implementation of healthier foods,” said Watson. “With added greens and fruits, I think our school lunches look very good.”
Claremore school lunch prices have increased somewhat to better match the reimbursement amount needed for SFAs to remain certified. Prices have increased 10 cents from $2.25 to $2.35 for elementary and junior high lunch, and $2.50 to $2.60 for high school lunch.
Children from households whose income is at or below the household size and income criteria are eligible for free or reduced-priced school meals. Application forms have been sent to all homes throughout the district, with a letter to parents or guardians. To apply for free or reduced-priced meals, parents/guardians should fill out the application and return it to the student’s school.  Additional copies are available at the principal’s office in each Claremore school. Applications may be submitted at any time during the year.