"In other words, children will be able to buy only foods that their parents would find generally acceptable,' says Jessica Donze Black, director of the Kids' Safe and Healthful Foods Project, a non-profit, nonpartisan group helping to improve school foods for our kids. If your school participates in the National School Lunch Program (most public schools in the country do), they must adhere to these new snack regulations by the start of the 2014 school year.More info
Unlike other states, Hawaii operates as a single school district statewide across all islands. During the 2007-08 school year, the Hawaii Department of Education began revamping its school nutrition program in order to meet the State of Hawaii Wellness Guidelines, which were required to be implemented over a four-year period.
Some of the Solutions
Hawaii Public Schools implemented numerous changes— from eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages and less healthy snacks in vending machines, to removing deep-fried foods from menus, and serving a 50/50 blend of white and brown rice. A la carte items that were sold separately from school meals were made available only to secondary students, and included healthy options such as juice, water, and fruit. The district also integrated more local produce into the menu—including soybeans, papaya, melons, and corn—and prepared bread items in-house with at least 50 percent whole wheat ingredients. In addition, the district began serving only nonfat milk.
Measures of Success
Hawaii schools have made considerable progress moving away from menus that largely featured processed foods to ones with more made-from-scratch recipes prepared in-house. When the initiative began in 2007, very few school meal menu options were prepared in-house; today 20 percent of entrees are. According to school nutrition administrators, increasing the volume of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and then using them in meals prepared from scratch has not resulted in significantly higher food costs. This is partly due to prudent menu planning and carefully negotiated vendor contracts. Labor costs are comparable to pre-implementation, and food costs have remained steady at about 30 percent of total meal cost.
Snacks and Beverages
One of the most significant challenges the district faced was the reduction of vending machine sales, which traditionally supported a variety of school activities. District officials report that a successful shift to healthier fundraisers, including Christmas tree sales and “farm-raiser” initiatives—in which students sell local farm produce—has allowed the district to maintain revenue.
The #1 Lesson Learned
Hawaii Public Schools has found success in tackling the issue in a comprehensive manner. They modified vending machine and fundraiser sales at the same time they updated school meal menus. To support the changes, the district found creative ways to engage students in learning about health and nutrition through cross-curricular lessons and activities.
Read more "School Food Success Stories" from school districts across the nation.
- Date added:
- Dec 19, 2012
"Three area produce growers have made a solid connection with Siouxland school lunch programs in Hinton, Dakota Valley, and Sioux City Bishop Heelan. The result is a three-way-win, with students getting fresher produce, the local farmers getting access to an important segment of the food service market, and the area economy developing stronger local ties."More info
"These days, it’s easy to blame the federal government for aggravating our lives."More info
As school food authorities work to implement the USDA's new meal standards, they may face challenges, including limitations in existing kitchen equipment and infrastructure, and in the training and skills of food service staff. This is the first of a series of reports summarizing how schools are putting in place the USDA standards and what challenges they face before they can reach full implementation.More info
"Menomonie school district students will be getting more fruits and vegetables with their lunches this year."More info
"It's Back to School season, and for some, that means back to bashing the federal school meal program. On August 27th, a widely disseminated AP article misleadingly implied that new healthier lunches were causing a mad rush by school districts to withdraw from the federally funded National School Lunch Program (NSLP)."More info