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Friday, May 17 2013 5:47 PM EDT2013-05-17 21:47:38 GMT
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Friday, May 17 2013 5:44 PM EDT2013-05-17 21:44:31 GMT
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JEFF DAVIS PARISH, LA (KPLC) -
It's a topic many are concerned with: School lunch and what's on the plate.
Cafeterias in schools across Southwest Louisiana are making changes to the meals served to students. These changes are coming from the U.S. Department of Agriculture with guidelines school systems must follow to help provide a healthier lifestyle for students.
But change this drastic isn't easy and each parish is experiencing the same challenges when meeting the guidelines.
"I have a lot of parents calling in concerns that their children are coming home hungry," Jeff Davis Parish School Board Food Services Supervisor Tina Coleman said.
"We also had some problems with our children accepting these changes. That's probably been our greatest challenge," Beauregard Parish School Board Food Services Supervisor Molly Poe said.
The new guidelines offer:
- Fruits and vegetables as two meal components daily
- Offer whole grains
- A daily meat or meat alternative
- Fat-free chocolate milk and/or 1-percent white milk
- Reduce sodium content of meals
- Meal ingredients will be zero grams trans fat per serving
Coleman knows this is a tough transition for herself and Jeff Davis Parish schools, but if she doesn't follow these guidelines, the school system won't receive reimbursement.
"The incentive is that we have a 6-cent increase for our reimbursement," Coleman said. "So, this year, we're getting a chance to get everything together and submit it to the state department for approval."
When asked what happens if guidelines aren't followed, Coleman said: "You don't get the reimbursement."
That's something that's important to public schools who offer the free and reduced lunch. Coleman said even with these changes, the number of students signed up for lunch has declined.
"My participation compared to last year is down by 290 students, so we're trying to get those students back," she said.
But in Beauregard Parish, Food Services began the healthy transition in 2011.
"By gradually breaking it in last year, a few of the changes we made with the grains and the milk, it's helped us make the transition into this year much easier," Poe said.