The Forsyth County Board of Education focused on school meals during a work session Thursday.
The system’s nutrition policy is being influenced by the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act of 2010.
The federal law requires that all meals should lower sodium, place calorie limits, and impose daily minimum requirements and weekly ranges for meats and grains. Among other guidelines are making sure all carbohydrate items are whole grain rich and requiring students to select one fruit or vegetable.
One casualty to healthier meals has been a popular chocolate muffin. “One of our favorite items, which is a chocolate muffin top, is no longer available,” said director of food and nutrition services Valerie Bowers. “It doesn’t meet the grain requirement.”
Bowers said that she expects the loss of the muffin may decrease breakfast participation, which is currently at 13 percent of students. Lunch participation is 42 percent, but is expected to increase. “We typically see an increase start just about now and go through the month of October,” Bowers said. “So, we expect those numbers to rise.”
The law provides a reimbursement of 6 cents per lunch for schools that meet requirements. Since local schools qualify, the system was given more than $193,000 for 2014 and almost $122,000 for 2013. Schools are also required to raise prices to equal money received from the federal government.
“The issue that this has caused us is that we have to raise prices even though financially we don’t need to,” Bowers said. “There’s not a need to do that and any time we do that, participation falls 2 to 3 percent.” Bowers said the system is hoping that extra revenue generated will fund a summer meal program for underprivileged students. Bowers also informed the board that the system had won the Golden Radish award at the bronze level for systems “who are doing extraordinary work in farm to school” efforts.