The School Day Gets Healthier in 2012

School meals are changing … for the better!

One of the things new for the 2012-13 school year are new requirements for healthier school meals, which is great news for our students. Des Moines Public Schools has been a leader in providing healthier and more nutritious food in our schools, and these new requirements will build on that work to provide more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthier entrees in our school cafeterias.

Some of the new requirements include

  • Increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables.
  • Reducing the sodium in meals over the next 10 years.
  • Setting calorie limits for the first time.
  • Increasing whole grains.
  • Limiting the amount of meat/meat alternatives and grains.

Students will now be required to have ½ cup of fruit or vegetable on their tray for it to count as a full meal.  A variety of options will be provided each day to give students a range of choices for fruits and vegetables.

Schools are also now limited on how much meat/meat alternate and grains can be offered.  This means that some of the main dishes may not be as large as they have been in the past.  Remember, though, there will be more fruits and vegetables available, to fill out the meal and ensure students have plenty to eat.

In Des Moines Public Schools, we have already made progress toward meeting the new requirements.  Some of the things the district has been doing include:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables are served every day.
  • Sandwiches are served on whole wheat buns.
  • All pasta served is whole grain.
  • Milk that is available is only low-fat or fat-free.
  • Main dishes have been changed to reduce sodium.
  • Dark green and orange vegetables are served on a weekly basis.
  • Dried beans have been incorporated into some of the recipes.

The DMPS school nutrition program will work hard to make these healthy changes for our students and make each meal something our students will enjoy. 

How Can You Help? The school nutrition program needs the support of parents to succeed. Parents can support this effort by encouraging your child to give the healthier meals a try, joining your child for lunch and talk about the healthy options, or simply introducing your child to these healthy changes at home.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.  We are here to help!

For more information on school meals and the healthier changes, visit the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service.

Published on