Federal guidelines limit calories during school meals
by Anthony Cloud Staff Writer
During a special-called Bell School Board Meeting on Tuesday, Superintendent Yvonne Gilliam mentioned that many of the board members have received calls about the quality and quantity of food served during school meals.
Doris Cooper, Director of Food Service and Nutrition, said the federal government sets the guidelines based on the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
“We didn’t have hungry children before. We do now,” said Cooper in regards to the act.
Cooper said the max calorie levels are one of the biggest things holding the program back. At the high school level, the maximum calories a child can consume during lunch is 850. At the middle school the maximum is 700 and at the elementary level it is 650.
For breakfast, high school students can only have 600 calories, middle school students can have 550 and elementary students can consume 500 calories.
There has also been a restriction on how much meat schools can give students because of calorie issues.
“I know for a fact that the menus that we’re giving is not the menus I would be doing if I didn’t have my hands tied,” said Cooper.
Cooper said students must have ¾ cups of red and orange vegetables and 1 ½ cups of dark greens weekly. Dark greens include romaine, spinach and kale. It does not include green beans.
“I promise you, our cooks…are preparing this food the best they know how,” said Cooper. “They are giving each child the amount they are suppose to. The quality of food we are using…there is none better.”
All the meat provided at the school is USDA approved and has a child nutrition label.
In the past, students used to receive biscuits and gravy, 4-ounce pork chops and other similar items during breakfast.
“Those days are long gone,” said Cooper. “That one 4-ounce pork chop alone would be more calories than a child would be allowed.”
Cooper said a child can get seconds if they want it.
“We are doing our best to get around every obstacle that is in our way,” said Cooper. “We don’t want anybody to go hungry.”
Cooper said she is trying to make sure every child at the schools in the fresh fruit and vegetable program is aware of the program. The district also provides preschool snacks and tutoring snacks.
Any child in any activity in seventh period is given a snack as well, which contains a sandwich, milk and a piece of fruit.
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-248-1010, ext. 208, email@example.com
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