District, along with other public school districts around the
country, are in the midst of reinventing student-feeding
programs in hopes of changing the eating habits of the rising
generation. That effort, in turn, is part of a comprehensive
approach to significantly improving wellness education.
Brandywine's school nutrition supervisor, said the ultimate goal
is to significantly reduce the incidence of childhood obesity
and, along with that, reduce the risk of contracting
life-threatening and life-shortening illnesses.
During the coming
academic year, districts receiving federal lunch subsidies
will have to adopt and follow a wellness plan — a detailed
strategy for how good nutrition will be provided, promoted and
addition, nutrition standards set by the federal
government for school meals are expected to become
more rigorous next spring, on the heels of the
revised 'food pyramid'.
Brandywine's plan will come before the school board
for approval soon,
Use of these
professionally-designed logos will be part of the
school-lunch marketing campaign.
However, she added, that will not be the start of the district's
effort to bring student-feeding into line with what experts say
should be provided for the children.
Already, she said,
"our nutrition program meets or exceeds federal regulations."
• Only bread and
rolls made with whole wheat are served. Pat's Pizza, one of the
district's vendors, has agreed to use only whole-wheat dough to
make the pizzas it sells to the district.
• Popular chicken
nuggets are made with soybean and vegetable burgers are included
on the menus.
• Dairy products
are low-fat or no-fat and soy and rice beverages are included.
Other beverages must contain at least 50% real fruit juice and
no added sweeteners.
• Fresh vegetables
and fruit are on the menus and salads are available daily.
• No more than 35%
of the calories in snack food are from sugar or other sweeteners
and 10% or less of total calories come from saturated fat or
No changes are
planned in cafeteria offerings during the coming year, but,
effective Jan. 1, vending machines elsewhere in the schools,
which are not part of the student-feeing program, must meet the
same snack and beverage standards.
requirements, she said, drew surprisingly little resistance from
the children. The biggest objection was to dark bread, but that
gradually faded, she said. "Children want to be fed good and
safe food," she said.
School lunches are
popular in Brandywine. During the past academic year, just shy
of 1.1 million were served. In addition, there were 309,000
breakfasts provided. On average, about half the elementary- and
intermediate-school population, 70% of middle schoolers and and
68% of high school students buy lunch.
Prices for a full
meal during the coming year will remain $1.50 in secondary
schools and $1.25 in elementary schools. Prices for
a-la-carte items also will be unchanged.
New in the coming
year, Gouge said, will be a marketing effort to increase
patronage. Part of that will be an effort to substitute more
trendy names for the generic cafeteria. In elementary schools it
will be 'kids cafe' and in the secondary schools 'expressions
She said her goal
is a 2% increase in the number of meals sold. Besides supporting
the food-service program -- which must be financially
self-sufficient -- that will mean that more students are exposed
to good eating.
Whether that will
carry over to the children's outside-of-school lives remains to
be seen. But it will not be entirely left to chance.
A significant part
of the nutrition policy, she explained, will be nutrition
education incorporated into the regular classroom curriculum.
And there will be a formal measurement of student knowledge and
behavior, including height and weight trends, to see how well
the lessons are being taught and learned, she said.