Utah public school cafeterias get healthier options

Posted at 5:17 PM, Aug 22, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-22 20:04:29-04

WEST JORDAN, Utah -- As students across Utah head back to school they are finding the lunch room is not what it used to be.

More healthy food options are available in schools across the nation as part of new federal requirements that go into effect this fall.

The new regulations are part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act that was passed in 2010. The two main goals are aimed at combating childhood obesity and teaching kids healthy eating habits.

School nutritionists say in a way it turns the lunchroom into a classroom.

Over the past school year students at Columbia Elementary in West Jordan were among the first to see the new healthier school lunch menu.

Jana Cruz, Director Of Nutrition Services at the Jordan School District, says it has been the biggest change in 15 years as far as federal regulations on school food service is concerned.

“But for us, it really means we are changing from what we call a nutrient-based menu planning, to food-based,” said Cruz.

So instead of counting vitamins and minerals, a look at what is being served is done instead, like how much fruits and vegetables are put on the student’s plate.

New USDA regulations say schools must offer food from five different groups, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, milk, and meat --or some other high protein food.

Another change students will notice is smaller servings, but that may ultimately help students take fruits and vegetables.