ALPENA - The Alpena Public Schools Board of Education received an update on changes to the breakfast and lunch menus that are in place this year in accordance with the Healthy Hunger - Free Kids Act. Jan Faulman, food service director, addressed the board with the national school lunch program updates, but said the new components schools are required to offer now are healthier, but more costly.
"We're looking at what schools are serving, according to meal components and dietary specifications. Children will definitely have more access to a variety of fruits and vegetables," she said.
According to Faulman, the biggest change for APS food requirements is the offering of whole grain foods, which differs from past practices that only had a minimum requirement.
"We always offered sandwiches as a substitute, but we can't do that anymore," she said. "The whole grains plan will be phased in, meeting size requirements, and the FDA's whole grain health claim and calorie restrictions."
Faulman said vendors are cooperating with the process, but it will take time to phase in all of the necessary changes to the menu to include meal components and dietary specifications.
"There is a big change in calorie ranges. In the past we had a minimum never a maximum, it really hindered the menus ... Healthy eating is terribly more expensive," she said. "Kids are coming home starving because they didn't have enough to eat. What we're doing in Alpena, when kids eat their first meal we invite them back for fresh fruits and vegetables, on us, to help them fill up a little."
Faulman said the new lunch menus have been implemented this year at APS, and breakfast changes will begin next year. Some of the healthier requirements include sodium and trans fat reduction, and an increase in fruits and vegetables at every meal, along with low fat milk, with maximum calorie intakes.
"In the past we offered french fries as a vegetable, this year we can only offer it as an ala carte item. Last year we sold 200-250 pounds of french fries per day, this year it dropped to 10-15 pounds per day, that's huge for us," she said.
Financially, Faulman said APS is receiving the same reimbursement compared to last year, and will compare local revenues in the near future. Breakfast participation however, has increased.
"Kids are throwing a lot more of it away... participation in Alpena has gone down somewhat, but October is looking better. Kids are coming back to the table and are trying new things," she said.
Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5687.