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Schools introduce healthier lunches

Many local families are only days away from a brand new school year, and school lunches are about to get a lot more healthy.

Schools are introducing a lot more fruits and vegetables, plus some healthier versions of your child’s lunchtime favorites.

The changes will cost parents a little more, but school administrators are hoping that parents will understand.

Edna Gerard, 82, has been feeding kids in eastern Idaho for 35 years.

“It’s a different thing than what we started with a long time ago — a long time ago,” Gerard said of the nutritional changes.

Instead of sticking to pizza and sloppy Joes, Edna and her colleagues will be dishing out a little more variety.

“We will see more fruits and vegetables in the schools,” said Heather Plain, food services director for Bonneville Joint School District 93. “And you’ll see whole grains.”

Schools across the country are working to abide by some brand new government regulations.

Students need to take a minimum of one-half cup of fruits and vegetables every day, 50 percent of grains served this year need to be whole-grain rich, and schools will be working to phase salt out of lunches over the next 10 years.

These regulations are all part of an effort to ditch the Food Pyramid, and move onto My Plate, a new model that suggests fruits and vegetables should make up half of an entire meal.

According to Plain, Idaho schools are making good progress toward that goal.

“The nonfat flavored milk came into play last year,” Plain said.

Plus, lunchtime favorites, such as chicken patties, are tossed in a whole grain breading.

Still, this progress comes at a cost.

“Fruits and vegetables are expensive,” Plain said, maintaining that raising the prices of school lunches is worth it, yet difficult.

“It’s painful,” she said of the price increase.

Lunches this year in District 93 elementary schools will jump 5 cents to $2. In secondary schools, meals are jumping to $2.35.

Plain welcomes parents to visit schools at any time and see what their kids are eating.

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