South GA students to see changes in lunch menus

Updated: Aug. 10, 2017 at 9:49 PM EDT
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(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)

DECATUR CO., GA (WALB) - Now that most students are back in school, they may notice their lunches are a little different this year.

Summer is over and the Bainbridge High School cafeteria staff is happy to see the students back at school.

Over the summer, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced rollbacks of nutrition standards set by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act.

This year, as students go through the lunch line, they may notice some new items on the menu.

"What we did this summer was got together with the managers, and pulled out our recipes, and tweaked them, adding a little sodium back," said School Nutrition Director Debbie Purcell.

More seasoning in foods is just one of many changes made by Perdue.

The changes include sodium content, milk options, and whole grain requirements.

"Nutrition and education go hand in hand," said Purcell.

Last year, Decatur County school staff saw fewer students eating school lunches.

"Students just were not accepting the food in our area. We were meeting those new guidelines, and for the first time in many years, our participation declined," said Purcell.

They are hoping this year, with fewer restrictions, that will change.

The USDA will now let the states grant exemptions to schools for whole grain standards.

The sodium requirements are now lower, allowing kitchen staff to use more seasonings and sodium to make foods appetizing to students.

Milk requirements were also changed, allowing schools to serve one percent flavored milk.

School staff hopes these changes will bring more students through the lunch line.

"We are hoping the students will find that the food tastes really good this year, and participation goes up," said Purcell.

The pre-K lunch also changed, adding more restrictions to their school lunches. They will no longer have flavored milk, students will have fewer sugary cereals, and now they have a set menu.

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