Pine Valley hears cafeteria report

SOUTH DAYTON – New legislation is causing some headaches in the Pine Valley Central School District.

Cafeteria Manager Terry Brown spoke at a recent meeting about some of the new restrictions she has to follow to comply with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

Now there is a limit on the amount of protein and grains a student can have. Brown said that under the new regulations, a kindergarten student cannot have peanut butter and jelly five days in a row. The amount of grain consumption would be over the amount allowed per week for students.

“It’s been a nightmare for many managers,” Brown said.

Since students cannot have the additional serving of grains, Brown has substituted a chef salad in place of the students’ favorite sandwich, which has not been well received by students. Other regulations call for the serving size to be decreased.

In the past, students could receive five chicken nuggets in a serving. Brown is only allowed to give a student three chicken nuggets and a half cup of rice.

Seventh- and eighth-grade students are allowed a half-cup of fruit, a quarter-cup less than last year. Students in grades nine through 12 are allowed a full cup.

The cafeteria is also not allowed to serve desserts under the new rules. Brown has noticed students are hungry.

“You can make it as healthy as you want, but if the kids don’t like it, they’re going to throw it out,” Brown said.

New regulations are also increasing prices for the school lunch fund within the budget. According to Brown, last year the district spent a little more than $3,300 for the school year on fruits and vegetables. Halfway through this school year, the district has already spend more than $4,600 for fresh fruits and vegetables.

For being in compliance, the school will receive an extra six cents per meal. Out of 1,200 school districts throughout the state, Pine Valley was one of 800 to show proof it was in compliance with the new regulations. Brown said the district had been trying to provide students with healthier lunches prior to the new regulations. The district has cut salt and butter from the menus.

“Kids were happy and full before the regulations,” Brown said.

Since the regulations were put in place in the fall, Brown said her staff has been great and the district is in compliance. Since the regulations have been implemented, the government has been lax about some of the requirements.

The district can now go over the amount of grains served as well as increase the serving size.

“I’m hoping they’re going to stick with the minimum (servings) but not with the maximum (servings allowed),” Brown said.

Comments on this article may be sent to smcdonnell@observertoday.com.