The folks responsible for what goes on the serving tray when school kids file through lunch and breakfast lines across the state were at the Clyde Muse Center Monday getting ready for the school year.
They were getting a crash course on what changes need to be in place when kids line up this fall. This comes as new meal pattern guidelines are being served up from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services.
"That meal pattern is really going to change what you see on the tray," said Mississippi Department of Education nutrition director, Scott Clements.
Clements says it won't be a complete change however. Lunch time favorites, like pizza, will still be on the menu.
"It may be whole grain pizza with low fat cheese on it but you'll still see pizza there," said Clements.
More nutritional recipes are replacing those high in fat and less beneficial. Kids will be seeing more fresh fruit, salads and green leafy vegetables. Breads will be moving to whole grain with an overall emphasis on a healthier meal.
"We know those are the things we need to be serving children," said Vicksburg-Warren School District nutrition director Gail Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh says the changes may be hard to chew on at first, but they're here to stay.
"I think to children, it's going to take nutrition education. It's going to take working with our teachers and our administrators in trying to get the information out," said Kavanaugh.
Clements says the state is ahead of the curve on a portion of the implementations thanks to requirements already set by the legislature.
"We have increased the whole grains on the tray already, we have moved from high fat to low fat milk already and we've increased the number of fruits and vegetables already," said Clements.
Given the state's child obesity and health rankings, Kavanaugh says the menu adjustments can have long lasting impacts.
"We would hope that we would see a healthier Mississippi. That's the outcome we want," said Kavanaugh. "We want these children educated and we want them healthy."
Nutrition directors say parents need to be aware of the changes and encourage kids to try new selections. They say a good way to start is at home, since that guides their selections at school.
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