Area schools talk lunch guidelines
October 15. 2012 10:35PM
In a recent visit to Brandon Valley’s middle and high schools, South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem spoke to a topic concerning parents, students and staff in the area – whether or not school lunch guidelines are leaving children unsatisfied.
Rep. Noem has been traveling throughout the state to hear opinions from students, parents, administrators and nutrition staff on the school lunch program changes, the first in 30 years. Last week, she spent time with middle and high school students at Brandon Valley. She’s also made similar visits to Yankton, Aberdeen, Watertown and Madison.
“Kids in Aberdeen noticed the meat is being placed on a smaller section of their tray, and the fruits and vegetables are being placed on the larger section of the tray,” Noem told the Brandon Valley group.
The discussion has spread across the area districts, as both Dell Rapids and Baltic have heard feedback concerning the changes.
Elementary music teacher Kim Gaul was on-hand at the Dell Rapids School Board meeting Oct. 8 to express concern with the implementation of the new school lunch standards.
“I don’t know how we go about doing it cost-effectively,” she said, voicing worry over repetitive and unhealthy options being offered, from a parent’s perspective. “If you give a five-year-old the option between a hot dog and a salad, they’re going to pick a hot dog.”
Board member Matt Weiland said that one major issue is finding a balance between healthy and desirable.
“It’s one of those things, I think, when the school lunch people are going to walk the line between what’s healthy and what kids are going to eat,” he said, adding that he’s concerned options that students don’t eat would be wasted and thrown out in bulk.
Baltic superintendent Bob Sittig said that feedback has come in from students, parents and staff alike with the new implementation this fall, saying that the caloric guidelines have yielded the most response.
“All calories must be counted and averaged over a week’s time, including even condiments, such as ketchup and ranch dressing,” he said. “This has resulted in smaller serving sizes, which do not satisfy some students.”
The superintendent said, though, that much of the response has died down as students become accustomed to the new guidelines.
In the meantime, new varieties of fruits and vegetables have not been initially embraced. “Until they develop a taste for some of these items, which I understand is the goal, there will probably be more food waste,” Sittig said.
And though students’ first time through the lunch line is restricted to one helping, they are able to take return trips for additional helpings of the main entrée at an added cost, something Sittig said defeats the purpose of the guidelines.
“This has created challenges for some family budgets,” he said. “I understand the issues with childhood obesity in our society, and schools should do what they can to address that.
“In my opinion, however, school lunches were not the cause of childhood obesity, but rather it is caused by lack of physical activity and student eating habits at night and on the weekends.”
Brandon Valley Challenger editor Jill Meier contributed to this report.