HOLMEN, WI (WXOW)—For school nutrition employees, the new school year brought a new set of nutrition guidelines they must follow when feeding children school lunches.
In preparation for the new school year, 325 school employees from 18 school districts gathered in Holmen to learn about the new guidelines for National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs.
They also picked up some tips on how to make food taste good using less sodium, as required by federal laws, and more herbs.
Studies have shown children that are well nourished do better in school and have less behavioral problems, which is why there is such a big push for healthier lunches.
Over the next ten years, schools will have to change meal standards and gradually become healthier.
At school, the days of greasy old hamburger and french fries are over.
"You're going to see a lot of the same names but it will be a healthier version," Michael Gasper, Holmen School District Food Service Director said. "It won't be like going to McDonalds and getting a chicken nugget. It will be a baked chicken nugget with whole grain."
Students will see fewer foods high in carbohydrates and sodium and more fruits and vegetables.
"It will take time for students to get used to some of the foods they're going to see," Katie Wilson, Executive Director National Food Service Management Institute.
Wilson said helping children broaden their palate will be easier if parents change their habits at home too.
"I would really look at the menu with the child and day what things could you chose and have more of that fill you up. Did you drink your whole milk? Did you throw some away?" Wilson said.
Schools also have to follow new caloric guidelines for each age group, meaning some children could be seeing reduced portion sizes.
"But kids need to remember they can make that up in eating more vegetables and fruits," Gasper said.
Each school district is meeting the new guidelines in their own way.
In Holmen, Gasper said they're adding salad bars to elementary schools and trying new home cooked recipes.
However districts decide to do it, nationwide, children should be getting the same nutrition out of their meals.
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