The lunch menu at Bismarck High School looks a little different this year.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently established nutrition standards for food sold in all schools throughout the United States.
At Bismarck High School, the new policy means no cookies, soup or chips that are not baked. These new changes may be healthier, but many students at BHS are not happy.
“I personally think it is dumb because, if they are not going to sell food at the school, we are just going to go somewhere even more unhealthy,” sophomore Sam Wech said. “All the food I liked got taken away because it was not ’healthy,’ so now I have to go out to eat every day so I can get something I like.“
“The regulations were brought on because of rising rates of childhood obesity and diabetes,” said Joan Knol, Bismarck Public Schools registered dietitian.
The new nutrition standards require that any food sold in school must be a “whole grain-rich” grain product, have a fruit, vegetable, dairy product or protein food as the first ingredient, be a combination food that contains at least one-fourth cup of fruit or vegetables, or contain 10 percent of the Daily Value of one of the nutrients of public health concern in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, such as calcium, potassium, vitamin D or dietary fiber.
“School lunches are a good place to implement changes,” Knoll said. “School lunch feeds a lot of kids. It gives them a healthy meal and even teaches them about healthy nutrition, balance and to pick from the five food groups.“
One thing that has captured the attention of not only the students at BHS but also the staff: Why can caramel rolls be served but not cookies? The reason is caramel rolls are whole grain so they count towards the grains and they are a main entree so the calorie amount can be higher than an add-on, such as a cookie.
“I know it is hard, but students need to be patient. Our providers are trying to give us products that will still meet the new guidelines. I have samples coming in this week or next week, such as soup with lower sodium and chicken noodle being whole grain,” kitchen manager Julie Nelson said. “Just be patient. You will be seeing these items as soon as we find them.“
While these changes seem drastic, Nelson says, even without the USDA regulations, she would still work to make school lunches as healthy as possible.
“I believe that health is important,” Nelson said. “Even at home, I push healthy eating.”