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Fewer buying school lunch, district says

November 21, 2012
By ARTHUR CLEVELAND , The Leader Herald

FONDA - Fonda-Fultonville Central School has seen a drop in school lunch purchases this year following implementation of new national dietary guidelines.

Interim Superintendent Patrick Michel said Monday that compared to the same period in 2011, the total of meals served through the school lunch program between September and mid-November dropped by almost 12,000. In 2011, 47,515 meals were served over 49 days. This year, there was a drop to 35,736 over the same period.

Michel blamed the decline on the new dietary guidelines in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, one of the first major changes in dietary guidelines for school lunches in decades.

The guidelines allow only low-fat and fat-free milk, mandatory daily requirements of fruits and vegetables, a maximum amount of meat daily and weekly, and limits on calorie levels.

For kindergarten to fifth-graders, a maximum of 650 calories is allowed. Sixth- to eighth-graders are allowed 700 calories, and ninth- through 12th-graders are allowed a maximum of 850 calories.

Students aren't happy with this change, Michel said.

Sara James and Courtney Putnam, seniors at Fonda-Fultonville, both said they lunches they receive aren't enough.

Putnam said that with the dietary restrictions, she "felt like a rabbit" whenever she ordered a salad, saying the dressings come in small serving sizes.

"We were shorted on both portion size and condiments," said Adam McCoy, a senior. "It can range from anything from five mozzarella sticks to a couple of chicken nuggets."

The guidelines, however, must be followed if the school district wants to be reimbursed for school lunches, Michel said.

"The fact is whether we like it or not, the federal government pays our bills for lunch and we have to follow their guidelines," Michel said.

Fran O'Donnell, coordinator for child nutrition at the New York State Education Department, said the new dietary guidelines are supported by physicians.

She said the requirements for calorie intake are acceptable.

She said the new guidelines are a major change for children and will take time for children to get used to them.



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