Iberville Parish School System's Meals implements new nutrition standards

PAULA TILLMAN WARNER School Food Service Supervisor

PLAQUEMINE - As Iberville Parish School System's students return to school this fall, they’ll continue to find healthy choices in their school cafeterias.          

Iberville Parish schools will be serving school meals that meet tough new federal nutrition standards, ensuring that meals are healthy, well-balanced and provide students with the nutritional needs to succeed at school.

Last year, lunch menu changes were implemented, this year the breakfast menu changes will be phased in.

The new meal standards for the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs were announced by USDA in the Spring of 2012.  The new requirements went into effect on July 1, 2012, and many of the changes were put in place in the 2012-13 school year. Other changes will be phased in over the next several years.

School meals offer students milk, fruit and vegetables, proteins and grains, and they must meet strict limits for saturated fat and portion size.  Starting this fall, school lunches will meet additional standards requiring:

•         Age-appropriate calorie limits

•         Larger servings of vegetables and fruits (students must take at least one serving of produce)

•         A wider variety of vegetables, including dark green and re/orange vegetables and beans/legumes

•         Fat Free or 1% milk (flavored milk must also be fat-free)

•         More whole grains

•         And Less Sodium

The USDA has also released the new Smart Snack in School standard, the interim final rule for competitive foods sold in schools.  The regulations are, for the most part, the same as the proposed rules, which were released for the school meals.  This rule affects all foods sold outside of school meals programs on the school campus at any time during the school day (midnight the day before to 30 minutes after the end of the school day).  This rule will not affect foods that are sold after school such as athletic events, etc.  This essentially means that any food sold on the school campus must now meet the same nutrition standards.

“We’re always working to offer Iberville Parish student healthier and tastier choices,” said Paula Warner, RD,  School Food Service Supervisor.  "In addition to meeting new nutrition standards, we’re also implementing a new on-line meal payment system which allows parents to pay for student’s meals with their debit or credit cards."   Also, new this year, parents will be able to apply for Free or Reduced meals on-line.  More details about these new features will be available on the Iberville Parish School Board web-site at www.ipsb.net.

The 2013-14 menu will also be displayed on the Iberville Parish web-site within the upcoming weeks.

This allows parents the opportunity to review the menu with their children and encourage them to make healthy choices at school.  A tremendous amount of work has gone into making sure the new standards are met. 

The health of our nation is of grave concern.  Encouraging healthy choices at home and at school should be one of our main goals.