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BOE Announces Health-Inspired Change to Lunch Program

The Farmingdale School District announced plans to comply with the HHKFA.

The announced their plans to incorporate the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act (HHKFA) into the school lunch program during a meeting on Sep. 12. 

The act, approved by the government in January, requires school districts nationwide to provide healthier school lunches.

Assistant Superintendent for Business, Paul Defendini, said compliance is necessary as federal subsidies, which make student lunches affordable, is tied to the act.

The lunch program change will go into effect throughout the district starting Oct. 1. The breakfast program will go into effect in Sep. 2013.

The change will include not only the types of food that will be served, but also the portion sizes and calories limits which varies between grade levels. Meals will be made up of five components: fruits, vegetables, grains, meat/meat alternatives and milk products. 

"The amount of food that is actually being served is not less, it is actually more food that is being served. The difference is in where that food is being served," said Defendi, who added there will be a significant amount of fruit and vegetables served versus the previously dominant grain and protein portions of years past.

Defendi said the board has sent home letters asking parents to help students accept the menu changes.

"It is going to be a responsibility that we all have in educating students on the importance of moving away from the old food pyramid," he said.

"We are going to need some help. We are asking parents to continue to be our partner in asking kids to try different kinds of menu options. There is going to have to be some level of synergy between the home and the schools."

Offering more nutritional menu items may prove to be costly according to Defendi as he stated that the board may have to raise the cost of lunches which will be decided at the end of calendar year.

"Obviously the cost of providing what is ultimately going to be more fresh fruit and fresh vegetables is going to be more costly than the items that we had provided in the past," he said. 

Students are not required to participate in the program as bagged lunches will still be permitted.

A-la carte, snack items will still be available for purchase.

Food allergy issues will continue to be addressed on an individual basis.

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