New rules from the US Department of Agriculture means area school kids are seeing healthier, fresher options at lunch time.
It’s an effort to fight childhood obesity and diabetes.
“We're looking at lower sodium products, we're looking at products that have less saturated fat,” says Carol Godfrey, Springdale School District Food Service Director.
More fruits and veggies, lower calories and more whole wheat items are on the menu in the Springdale School District.
Godfrey says they knew the changes were coming, so they've been slowly adding more whole grain items to the menu.
“Anymore the whole grains are almost indistinguishable, there's a white whole wheat that we serve on our pizza crust that students don't even realize that they're eating a whole grain product,” Godfrey said.
But the biggest change will come at the secondary schools.
“USDA requires a half cup of fruit or a half cup of vegetables to be on every student's lunch tray, a part of their meal,” Godfrey said.
With changes also comes some challenges, like food being thrown out or wasted.
“We're having to say [to students] ‘Sorry, but you need to go back and you need to get a fruit or vegetable,’ for us to count it as a reimbursable meal,” Godfrey said. “They're leaving them on the tables and throwing them in the trash cans.”
But parents say if they're eating well at home, then they'll want to do the same at school. Most parents we spoke with are happy about the changes.
Each grade level has a guideline on how many calories students should consume.
The school district says with the rising price of fresh food products they expect to see a jump in food spending.
For more on the USDA's School Meals Guidelines, click here.