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Royal Oak Schools Mix It Up in the Lunchroom

The United States Department of Agriculture has set new requirements for public school lunches that will alter the foods students will be served in cafeterias this year.

Schools nationwide will be serving healthier lunches this year.

Royal Oak schools are no exception. Like other districts across the country, they will implement new guidelines set by the United States Department of Agriculture this year that aim to improve the quality of school lunches by increasing their nutritional value.

School lunches are now separated into five components: meats/meat alternates, grains, fruits, vegetables and milk. A student must take three of the five components for it to be considered a meal, and one of those components must be at least one serving of a fruit or vegetable.

"Last year we could combine a fruit and a vegetable as a component. Now every meal must have a fruit or a vegetable," said Jody Taratuta, of Chartwells Food Service, in a presentation to the Royal Oak School Board in August. "We have to count colors and make sure so many colors are available each day throughout the week. Everything is based on minimums and maximums."

Over the last couple of years, many changes have already been rolled in, such as using nutrient rich spinach and romaine instead of iceberg lettuce - and, with more compliments than complaints, according to Taratuta.

“A lot of our menu changes have been in effect since 2010 so your students aren't going to see a whole lot of drastic changes,” she said. “We have been trying to be very proactive.”

[See Royal Oak Schools Rank Third for Using Local Produce in Lunches]

The new rules will also reduce sodium and saturated fat levels in school meals and now half of the grains offered (pizza crust, rolls, muffins) must be whole grains.

"We took away the salt shakers and the packets years ago," Tartula said. "Now we are looking at the processing of the foods and working with manufacturers and getting them on board to comply."

There are some changes students might notice, such as the elimination of a pattern of "breakfast for lunch" meals on Wednesdays and Bosco Stick meals Thursdays at the elementary school level.

"While these may have been our highest participation days they may not have been viewed as the most healthy meals on the menu," said Mike Jacobs, director of food services. Eliminating the pattern will allow for a variety of more healthful meals throughout the month, he said.

Additionally, the USDA has regulated the minimum and maximum amounts of certain meal components that schools can give to each student:

Kindergarten-Grade 5:

  • Fruits: ½ cup minimum per day
  • Vegetables: ¾ cup minimum per day
  • Grains: 8-9 ounces per week
  • Meats/meat alternates: 8-10 ounces per week
  • Calories: 550-650 calories per lunch
  • Trans fat: 0 trans fat

Grades 6-8:

  • Fruits: ½ cup minimum per day
  • Vegetables: ¾ cup minimum per day
  • Grains: 8-10 ounces per week
  • Meats/meat alternates: 9-10 ounces per week
  • Calories: 600-700 calories per lunch
  • Trans fat: 0 trans fat

Grades 9-12:

  • Fruits: 1 cup minimum per day
  • Vegetables: 1 cup minimum per day
  • Grains: 10-12 ounces per week
  • Meats/meat alternates: 10-12 ounces per week
  • Calories: 750-850 calories per lunch
  • Trans fat: 0 trans fat

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SERIALKILLA CHUCKY September 29, 2012 at 05:13 AM
RO SCHOOL FOOD IZ NASTY GLAD I UP OUTTA DERE BUT WE I NVR ATE FOOD AT DA SKWL S0 NFBD
JDokho October 25, 2012 at 10:41 PM
As a student at Royal Oak High School I believe that the new rules on the food aren't received as well as this article makes them seem. At school, I often hear people talk on how they liked the school's lunches better last year. The criteria for these new rules to work would be that the school really enforces them, and that every student participates. At Royal Oak over half the school is going out to eat and getting fast food daily. Also at school I have purchased a lunch without getting a fruit or vegetable that day, and I was never told to. This proves that the school doesn't enforce this strong enough, and that makes it invalid. I believe this is a very good idea, but it has many flaws when the school doesn't enforce it enough. http://fitbie.msn.com/eat-right/healthiest-school-lunches-ever-announced In this article it proposes a very good, and similar plan to the one Royal Oak has, but it earns the school money if they follow all of the guidelines. Royal Oak needs the money, and the kids need to be healthier.
Briana L. October 25, 2012 at 11:52 PM
As a student at Royal Oak High School, I believe the new rules stated in the above article has taken place at Royal Oak High School. Many students, including myself, are required to take a vegetable or fruit when purchasing a meal but will dispose the sides after taking. All because students are required to take a vegetable or fruit, it doesn't mean that they'll keep them and eat it. In my opinion the criteria for a good school lunch is defined with Royal Oak High School's lunch. There's one problem, the school doesn't encourage students to eat the vegetables or fruit, they just make sure you take one saying, "You are required to take one, I don't care what you do with it, but you have to take a vegetable or fruit." http://royaloak.patch.com/articles/royal-oak-schools-ranks-third-for-locally-produced-lunchfare#photo-9167505 This article explains that Royal Oak High School puts samples of different vegetables for the students to try. That is good and helpful way to get students to eat the vegetables but that's not enough. A second method would be to have the lunch ladies inspire the students to not just take a side but also eat the side. Doing this would not just present the school as a healthy school but a healthier school as a whole.
David October 26, 2012 at 01:47 AM
As a Royal Oak Senior I have experienced multiple lunch changes within the systems. By the definition of health “is a state of physical, mental, and social well-being.” http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/health. This state of physical well-being can be taught by their parents. A school in North Carolina took a different approach. A young student brought a lunch from home that did not meet the UDSA guidelines and was forced to buy a lunch. When the student arrived home, the parent received an uneaten lunch and a bill. The lunch contained a turkey sandwich, a banana, potato chips, and apple sauce. However according to UDSA criteria of “healthy foods” a lunch needs a meat group, grain, fruit or vegetable. This lunch has a turkey sandwich, which includes a meat product, bread that counts as grain, and a banana which is a fruit. So parents can provide healthy foods without the schools providing or forcing students to buy lunches from the school district. http://hotair.com/archives/2012/02/14/school-forces-preschooler-to-eat-cafeteria-lunch-because-moms-isnt-healthy-enough/
Martin K October 26, 2012 at 02:06 AM
I am a student at Royal Oak highschool . I don’t totally agree with the points that this article makes. But of course it is important that students have a healthy meal especially because the school days are long and exhausting and its important not just for our health, but also to be able to participate in class and learn ! What I experienced in my first two school month is what the article describes , but in my opinion this is not just positive. Making lunch healthy is one thing , but making people eat it , a totally different point . The statistics might look nice but what I saw in my first school month was, that the majority of students in upper classes doesn’t even eat in the cafeteria. So what do all those healthy snacks help, when nobody eats them ? In my opinion the general idea of school lunch should be chanced ! Instead of having healthy fruits with unhealthy taccos , pizza or burger , there should be an alternative for students to get GOOD food ! It might cost more money but American teenagers would also learn about food apart from Taco bell , McDonalds or the School cafeteria ! I found a project by the English star Chef Jamie Oliver who brought up ideas similar to mine . Maybe some of you go on the website and read trough it ! Its definitely no waste of time ! http://www.jamieoliver.com/us/foundation/jamies-food-revolution/about_jamie_oliver
TherenW October 27, 2012 at 01:00 AM
In theory I think this is a very good idea to be serving lunches that are healthier but the major flaw in this. First of all for something to be healthier it must be better than before or improved significantly. The definition for something to be healthier is that it couldn’t be worse off than it originally was. With the new requirements for fruits and vegetables every student must take them with their meal, but taking it means very little compared to actually eating it. Being a student at ROHS I have seen many incidences of students walking out of the lunch line with their mandatory fruit or vegetable and dropping in the trash as they walk to their seat. Based off the study sited here http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/organics/food/fd-gener.htm the loss in money because of food waste is a great one. I can agree with many of my fellow students in saying that the taste and look of the food in most cases in not satisfactory and that is causes many people to throw it away. By just requiring students to take certain components does not necessarily make them eat it more than when it was optional (making the goal of students eating healthier still the same distance away). Based on my previously stated definition though the food may have nutritional content that is healthier for you the program itself is not a healthy one but one that is quite infective.
Tatum E. October 27, 2012 at 03:26 AM
As a student of Royal Oak high school student, i see how the meal changes could be beneficial. Seeing as meals are much healthier and offer a more rounded diet for the students who wish to buy school meals. But I don't agree completely with it. I don't believe that when students purchase meals, they will eat every aspect of their meal. Most students i do know, already do not eat the vegetables/fruits and just throw them out. http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Food%20waste%20in%20schools%20full%20report%20.pdf At this website I gathered just how how much the effect of food waste. Not only the food is being wasted but also the energy put into the transportation and growing of the food, the money spent on the food, and the lack of nutrition the students will gain from the wasted food. You cannot force a child to eat their vegetables, and when the school makes students take the vegetables and fruits, they are basically inadvertently wasting the produce that both the school and students have spent money on. There is also the fact the students may also not be getting all the calories they need. Some students are much more active then others, participating in sports, etc. So the set amount of calories may not be sufficient for their own diet. http://www.wkow.com/story/19856674/school-lunch-debate-is-your-child-getting-enough-to-eat From this article it talks about how students are not receiving enough sufficient food. So, personally I disagree with this meal reform.
Griffin Kernen October 29, 2012 at 03:42 AM
As a student at ROHS I expirience the lunchroom everyday and I must say the lunch is pretty good. The lunches give a lot of variety which really gives the students a great selection. The fruit and vegtebales are always fresh and the entree's are very tasty. The sides are very appealing as well, as baked chips and fruity snacks are some of the options. As every component of the lunches are good, there is one area they could improve on. That area is drinks. A lunch is providerd with a pint if milk, which in my opinion is'nt enough. Hydration is very important ecspecially in a learning environment and I believe the school should supply a larger variety of drinks for lunch. Yes the school gives the option of buying other drinks, but not cheap as life water is a dollar and twenty five cents. The school should add a drink in the meal with a higher quanity and give students more options. Studies show you should drink a lot of liquids throughout the day as lunch is a prime time to add those fluids http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/food-nutrition/nutrients/hydration-why-its-so-important.html. The school should consider this as I see a lot of full milks in the trash or kids not being able to buy 2 drinks. This is just a small offer to the system as I believe it's rather flawless in other categories.
anisa w October 29, 2012 at 02:07 PM
I just transferred to Royal Oak High School this year as a senior from another district. I actually don’t think the lunches are that bad compared to what I was used to. I think the lunches are pretty healthy and the school allows you a variety of foods which is nice. Not everything is fried, they offer vegetables and fruits which is healthy and pretty good so far as a new student I don’t really have any complaints.
TJO October 29, 2012 at 03:36 PM
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Schools are to to educate our chilldren not raise them. Kids will behave the way they are raised at home. If they are allowed to pick and whine through their meals at home, that's how they will behave at school. Parents need to take responsibility for their children, and that includes they way they eat. If they are accustomed to eating properly at home their entire life, it will become second nature to them. Turn off Huggy Boo Boo and make your children a proper lunch. It is not that difficult.
Michael Cardamone October 30, 2012 at 03:22 AM
This plan seems to be a good basis for changing the way kids eat in the lunch room, however, I fear that it will not be met with as much success as the producers of this plan may have previously hoped or thought. For such a plan to work the students would have to follow the criteria for a "meal", this three food group meal would have to be enforced and monitored in the lunch room, and open campus lunch may have to be closed in order to reach this healthy goal. Not only should these requirements be met in the preservation of a healthy lunch status, there are uncontrollable variables that can and will occur as well. This plan cannot control how kids or parental units choose to pack their lunches, and another variable is the attendance of lunch, kids could choose to have their parents take them out or skip lunch if such criteria is forced upon them. Not only are there these variables that come into play, this plan, might be met with strong opposition. I am a senior at Royal Oak high school and I would definitely not be quick to give up the open campus system we have for anything. I've heard rumors that this may not be available in the near future which I feel is unfair. (http://www.ehow.com/facts_5788552_benefits-open-campus-lunch_.html) This article offers reasons as to why open campus can be beneficial to students. I believe that this is a valid idea, but that its uncertainties outweigh it's benefits and chance of success in the future.
Kayla October 30, 2012 at 09:14 PM
I believe this plan was a nice prototype but isn't fully up to par. I am a student at Royal Oak High School and enjoy eating school lunches. However, last year the meals were larger and kept me full until dinner. This year they have made the portions smaller and I am starving an hour or two after lunch. According to this article, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012/09/25/kids-push-back-on-new-school-lunch/57842204/1 kids in other states such as Kansas, Massachusetts, and South Dakota, have protested about their school lunches not being filling. This is affecting the children’s school work and general wellbeing because they are not getting enough energy. Food is just like gasoline, it keeps us running. In 2010, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act was created to keep kids healthy in school. Before, the daily lunch requirement was a minimum of 825 calories; now the requirement is a minimum of 750 calories and a maximum of 850 calories. According to the oxford dictionary, the definition of hunger is a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat. It seems as if the act backfired. I would suggest if the government wants school lunches to be healthy they should focus more on the healthiness of the food and less on the size. For example, they could bake homemade cookies. This is healthier because you can control how much sugar and butter is in it. This is a good compromise of filling yet healthy.

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