Eating healthy at school can be easy

In summer 2016, the Sheboygan Area School District approved eliminating reduced- price meal fees for families. This means all students under 185 percent of the poverty level now receive free lunches and breakfasts where available.

Previously, there was a small fee of 30 to 40 cents per breakfast/lunch meals for families. That cost will no longer apply.

Students who fall below 130 percent of the poverty level continue qualifying for entirely free meals from schools, and students above 185 percent of the poverty level will continue paying the full amount for a cost of the meal ($1.40 for breakfast and $2.50 for lunch at elementary schools, and $2.95 for lunch at secondary schools).

Many students whose family’s income falls between 130 and 185 percent of the poverty line, and who fall into the reduced- price category, do not have extra food at home for a packed lunch and do not have the extra few dollars each week to purchase school lunch.

These students would go without lunch, even though they are enrolled in school meal programs.

Without healthy meals during the day, students’ ability to focus, learn and perform is compromised — along with their health. By eliminating the cost to families, students are able to eat at school and get the nutrition they need to be successful.

The Sheboygan Area School District meets federal nutrition standards for school meals, ensuring that meals are healthy and well-balanced and provide students all the nutrition they need to succeed at school. School meals offer students milk, fruits and vegetables, proteins and grains, and they must meet strict limits on total calories, sodium, saturated fat and portion size. Since September 2014, school meals are made to meet additional standards requiring:

» Age-appropriate calorie limits

» Larger servings of vegetables and fruits

» A wider variety of vegetables, including dark green and red/orange vegetables and legumes

» Fat-free or 1 percent milk (flavored milk must be fat-free) » More whole grains

» Less sodium Each SASD cafeteria has a salad bar that offers students the choice of varying fruits and vegetables daily. Based on federal requirements, students have to take at least a half cup of fruit or vegetable with each meal, but we don’t want students to just throw it in the trash. Encourage your children to try new fruits and vegetables. We also offer a variety of roasted vegetable options each month like parsnips and carrots, rutabaga, and even beets! Students may be surprised by what they like.

The SASD School Nutrition Program encourages families to submit an application to see if they qualify for free meals. Many who apply are surprised to learn that they qualify. To access the application and view the SASD menus online visit sheboygan nutrition.cfm.

Amy Giffin, MS, RD, CD is the School Nutrition Supervisor for the Sheboygan Area School District.