Superintendent of Schools Michael Schilder said the district will be adding in more proteins and grains to its lunch menus after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it was eliminating requirements set out through the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.
"The USDA recently relaxed the required maximum quantities for grains and meats in the National School Lunch Program," he said. "The maximums were new this year to the school meal program and caused significant challenges in planning and serving meals especially to students in the middle and high schools."
With the new regulations, Schilder said, older students felt like they were not getting enough food for lunch as opposed to previous years.
But now, Schilder said, there will be more flexibility in the lunchrooms, at least for the rest of the 2012-2013 school year.
"However, meals must still meet the minimum quantities required for meal components, and must still be in compliance with the minimum and maximum calorie ranges for specific age and grade groups," he said.
In the coming weeks, Schilder said, students will start seeing increased protein and grain portions on certain menu items where those calorie maximums will still not be compromised.
Time was much of the issue in these changes, Schilder said. But, he said, everything could change back again next school year.
"The USDA realized that there was not enough time given to suppliers to provide products to meet the requirements for age-specific groups, which created menu planning difficulties," he said. "This change is only to accommodate the transition, and caps on proteins and grains may become permanent in the future."
For now, Schilder said, it is about offering the best possible options to the students.
"I support any efforts to provide children with healthier lunches and address the issue of obesity," he said. "In Bridgewater-Raritan School District, we select a food service provider partially based on its ability to provide healthy, nutritious meals."
"The district will continue to offer as many healthy food choices as possible," he added.