BLOOMINGTON -- Lunches for Bloomington District 87 students are on their way to meeting new federal guidelines for healthier meals.
Julie Fehrenbacher, the school district's director of food services, reported on progress concerning the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 to school board members Wednesday. The legislation, approved in December, eventually will mandate the serving of more healthy food in school cafeterias and vending machines, but final standards and an implementation deadline haven't been worked out yet.
While she supports the call for more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and skim milk, she expressed concern that the changes could drive up district food costs, which were in the $3 million range in 2009-10.
While no specific guidelines have been to given to school districts yet, Fehrenbacher said District 87 has been including some of the general requirements this school year, including more skim milk and whole wheat bread.
"I'm looking at next year as a time to experiment with some of the new things, get students used to them by 2012-13 and have a smooth transition," she said.
The vegetable requirements and sodium limitations may reduce how often the district can serve some items, such as french fries, which are on the menu each day at the high school.
Board member Steve Perry expressed concern that some parts of the nutrition law could backfire.
"A fear I have is if a kid can't have salt, they may not eat," said Perry.
The law also increased funding for school lunches.
Char Formella, Stevenson Elementary School cafeteria director, also reported on a successful program that allows students to donate unopened food and drink they do not eat to some area service agencies such as the Home Sweet Home Ministries in Bloomington.
Formella said 2,330 individual cartons of milk had been donated to the effort since November.