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Whitley County Schools Proactive in Implementing New Meal Standards

When the Nutrition Standards for School Meals went into effect last year, Whitley County School Food Service in Williamsburg, Ky., was already serving students more healthy meals.

“We actually had an easier time implementing the new meal pattern because we had participated in the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) in 2008,” said Sharon Foley, food service director.  “But we did have to change how many different kinds of fruits were offered weekly and add some orange vegetables.”

Students in Whitley County are enjoying the healthy foods their schools are offering. One of the most popular options is a chicken wrap made with chicken and flour tortillas.

Whitley County is also working to make some of their recipes healthier by making minor changes like using more whole grain pastas and breads. And, the Food Service is collaborating with food vendors to lower sodium and limit higher-fat items to meet the new meal pattern standards.

“The new regulations are very similar to the requirements for the HUSSC,” Foley said.  “With the new meal requirements, we are serving foods that the children might not be getting at home.  I believe this will help them develop a taste for healthier foods.  Their favorites may always be fries and pizza, but maybe we can help them learn to like spinach and carrots.”

According to Foley, the changes are working. When they made changes to the menu, the cafeteria staff worked directly with students to determine which options they enjoyed and which they didn't.

“The students, as a whole, seem pleased with the new items we are offering like chicken tacos, as well as the traditional beef, and are eating more fish,” Foley said. “We offer strawberries, grapes, and cantaloupe more often on the menus, and the students really like the mandarin oranges we began offering this year.”

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