Frequently Asked Questions for Child Nutrition Services
You may have heard your children commenting about how the school food tastes different. And the answer is, yes, the food is different. The truth is, all school food around the country has changed. Through the Healthy, Hunger Free– Kids Act, USDA mandated the first major change in school meals in 15 years. Starting the fall of 2012, tighter restrictions were placed on school food at both the state and national level. These changes included caloric and saturated fat restrictions, trans fat restrictions, whole grain requirements, food preparation and sodium limitations.
Below are a few of the questions that we have heard from you, and our responses to your concerns:
School food across the country has and will continue to be affected by these new guidelines, as the regulations tighten even more during the next 5 years. Leander ISD will continue to serve meals and operate with the best interests of your children through our sampling, surveys and focus groups. If you have any feedback about child nutrition, please contact us via "Ask a Question".
The school food tastes different this year; not even the chicken nuggets taste the same.
The old chicken nuggets did not meet the new regulations. The governmental regulations require that all breads must be either whole wheat or whole grain rich. Surprisingly, this includes the breading on all breaded products, including the chicken nuggets. Therefore, although the chicken nuggets are now nutritionally superior to the old nuggets, the taste of the chicken nuggets may have changed. Fortunately, we have tested the best products on the market that meet these new requirements, and we now only serve whole muscle chicken products at the highest quality,
What about the size of the meals? Everything has gotten smaller.
The new regulations now have a caloric limit, and the limit varies according to each age group. Unfortunately, this means that the quantity of food that was once served may not comply with the regulations due to their caloric content. However, we encourage your children to take all of the offered vegetable and fruit sides; as these items have been included in the calorie and menu planning. Many students only choose the required one side item even when they are free to take more. Please remind your children that fruits and vegetables have the essential nutrients and fiber that keep your children healthy and full.
The pizza isn’t the same; the crust isn’t as fluffy or crispy, and there’s too much cheese on it.
This change has two explanations: the crust of the pizza must now either be whole wheat or whole grain rich, and this may affect the texture of the pizza. Whole grains are naturally denser than their white counterparts, and this change altered the texture of the crust. They also have a slightly different taste that your children may not be used to. The new regulations also increased the minimum amount of meat and meat alternates per entrée at each grade level. In turn, we had to increase the amount of cheese in the pizza in order to meet the requirements. We in Leander ISD are proud to serve a made-from-scratch recipe that has been tested and approved to best meet these requirements and have the best finishing quality.