Director of Nutrition Services - Thomas Houle
Phone 978-779-0539 ext. 3045
A School Nutrition Update
The National School Lunch Act of 1946 and the Children Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act 2004
In 1946 President Harry Truman signed into law The National School Lunch Program Act. At that time the rejection of many wartime recruits due to malnutrition, and the agricultural abundance of our nation's farms intersected with the realization that hungry school children experienced difficulty in absorbing their lessons. The government decided to act. The introduction of the law stated its purpose "as a measure of national security, to safeguard the health and well-being of the Nation's children and to encourage the domestic consumption of nutritious agricultural commodities."
Today our farms are still bountiful and children continue to learn best when not plagued by hunger. The big difference, however, between 1946 and 2006 is the physical condition of our young; obesity has joined malnutrition as a major health risk to the youth of America.
When this fact became apparent to health professionals and legislators, the Congress of the United States passed the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004. This law is intended to "address obesity and promote healthy eating and physical activity through changes in school environments" by encouraging the development of local school wellness policies along with the continuation of the nutrition standards and menu planning requirements that govern the meals being offered to students.
Specific Requirements of the School Lunch Program Reimbursable meals for the National School Lunch Program have specific requirements based on the type of menu planning approach used. There are two approaches allowed under the National School Lunch Program.
The Food Based Approach consists of a meal pattern based on the type (breakfast/lunch) of meal served. A school lunch must contain a specified quantity by age/grade group for each of the food components:
Meat / Meat Alternate-1.5 ounces to 3 ounces
Vegetables- ½ cup to ¾ cup
Fruit- ½ cup to ¾ cup
Grain/ Bread- minimum of 1 serving per day
Milk- 8 ounces
The Nutrient Standard Approach uses computer software to conduct nutrient analyses of school meals. Instead of working with specific components in specific amounts, the menu planner analyzes the nutrient contributions from menu items served over a one week period. This analysis must meet the nutrition requirements for the age/grade group served on a per day basis:
- Calories- 664 to 825
- Total fat (as a % of actual food energy)- not to exceed 30% of calories from fat
- Saturated fat (as a % of actual total food energy)-10%
- RDA for protein (grams) - 10 to 16
- RDA for calcium (mg) - 286 to 400
- RDA for iron (mg) - 3.5 to 4.5
- RDA for Vitamin A (RE) - 224 to 300
- RDA for Vitamin C (mg) - 15 to 18
The Nashoba Regional School Foodservice Department currently uses the Food Based Approach. We hope to convert to the Nutrient Based Approach in the future because of:
- the greater flexibility in food choices it allows
- the ability to conduct recipe nutrient analysis
- enhanced menu planning options
- the easier tracking of student payment it provides and
- the capability of matching student allergy information with meal ingredient content that the systems enables
- The major stumbling block to acquiring the programs, hardware and necessary training is the high cost.
Cafeteria A La Carte Sales and Vending
The a la carte items sold in the Nashoba Regional School District cafeterias and vending machines meet the recommendations established by Massachusetts Action for Healthy Kids, which published these nutrition standards in 2004 as guidelines for schools to use in choosing competitive foods. Competitive foods are items that compete with the school lunch program. The Foodservice Department only purchases items that are on the "A" List maintained by the John Stalker Institute for Food and Nutrition at the Framingham State College. The Stalker Institute assessed many products and compared them to the standards set forth by MAHK.
The Paramount Concern of the Foodservice Department When President Harry Truman signed the National School Lunch Act on June 6, 1946 he said, "Nothing is more important in our national life than the welfare of our children, and proper nourishment comes first in attaining this welfare."
To ensure an environment of health and wellness for the children in our schools, the Foodservice Department will continue to focus on increasing the nutrient density of meal offerings, to monitor the amount of added fat and sugars, and to encourage moderation in portion sizes.