Just like kids all over the country, my own kids have settled into their new school year. With this new year, our school lunch routine has changed. Instead of packing lunches, I’m checking the school lunch menu each morning. In their school this year, there are more entrée options each day and there are always choices of fruits, veggies and milk.
Even though they don’t know it, they’re celebrating National School Lunch Week in the perfect way—with nutritious meals at school. I’m glad that they are choosing school lunches—it saves me time and gives them more options, since I tend to get stuck in “lunch packing ruts.”
Hosted by the School Nutrition Association, National School Lunch Week runs this year from October 9-13. The celebratory week encourages students, parents, foodservice professionals and food companies to tell others about the ingredient they think makes American school lunches successful.
Milk: A School Lunch Success
In 2012, changes were made to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s school lunch and school breakfast requirements that were intended to enhance the nutritional quality of these meals. One of the changes was to continue to allow flavored milk to be offered with meals, but only if the flavored milk was fat free. But some students who preferred low-fat flavored milk stopped opting for milk altogether, and this meant missing out on the important nutrients found in milk.
In May 2017, President Trump signed legislation that funded many government programs through September 2017. The bill also included a provision that would give states the ability to grant exemptions from the requirement that flavored milk must be fat free. This exemption could be provided if a school district can prove that there is less milk consumption by students or more school milk waste. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also proposed new rules that would allow school districts to offer low-fat flavored milk without an exemption. This interim final note proposal is currently pending at the Office of Management and Budget.
For this school year, this means that states are able to give permission to school districts to add low-fat flavored milk back to the milk offerings for breakfast, lunch and a la carte sales. This is great news for those kids who need the nutrition provided by milk and weren’t finding their preferred option in the lunch line.
This further enhances the nutrition in school lunches, which really is a recipe for success.