One of the most significant provisions of HHFKA, the Smart Snacks rule, establishes nutrition standards for all foods and beverages sold to students outside the breakfast and lunch meals. Effective July 1, 2014, the Smart Snacks rule applies to foods and beverages sold as a la carte items in the cafeteria, as well as foods and beverages sold in vending machines, school stores, fundraisers, and other venues on the school campus during the instructional day. The foods and beverages sold to students must meet specific criteria for ingredients, as well as calorie, sodium, fat, and sugar limits.
It is well known that high salt intake is associated with high blood pressure and may also contribute to the development of other diseases. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set sodium limits for school meals based on the age of the student. The first of three sodium restriction targets is effective with the 2014-15 school year and sodium levels in school foods will be gradually decreased over three implementations periods until the final target is met in the 2022-2023 school year. The long timeline will allow school nutrition programs and food manufacturers to adjust recipes and reformulate products. It will also give children time to adapt their taste preferences.
More than ever before, students will see an increase in whole grains on the serving line. According to the Federal nutrition standards, all grain items offered at breakfast and lunch must be whole grain-rich, which includes the breading found on entrée items. Foods that contain 100 percent whole grain or a blend of at least 50% whole grain and enriched flour are considered to be whole grain-rich.
Research shows that a diet rich in nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables may protect against the risk of certain diseases. Students in Yancey County will have the opportunity to consume more fruits at breakfast and must be offered at least one cup of fruit each day. Under Offer versus Serve, students must select at least ½ cup of fruit or juice as part of their reimbursable breakfast meal.
The foods a child learns to eat at school will help them make healthier choices throughout their life. Because children often carry their eating patterns into adulthood, a major goal of the HHFKA legislation is to help students make better choices and to develop lifelong healthy habits.
School Systems Are Required to Increase School Lunch Prices
Yancey County Schools Lunch Prices Remain Among the Lowest in Western North Carolina
Since 2010, school systems all across the United States have been required to evaluate the price charged for a “paid” lunch and adjust the price according to the Equity in School Lunch Meals Pricing Provision. The provision is enforced by USDA and says school systems can’t rely on Federal dollars from the free/reduced price lunch program to help cover the cost to produce a lunch for students who pay full price. School systems are required to increase “paid” lunch prices by five or ten cents each year to equal the difference between the Federal free and paid reimbursement amounts. Using the Paid Lunch Equity calculator provided by USDA, Yancey County Schools is required by law to increase “paid” lunch prices by 10 cents for school year 2014-15. The “paid” price for breakfast remains the same as last year ($1.00 for all grades) and the “reduced” price remains the same for breakfast and lunch (breakfast is free and lunch is 40 cents for all grades).
As is demonstrated by the following chart, lunch prices in Yancey County remain among the lowest in the western region.
NC Region 8 Lunch Prices
CEP – Community Eligibility Provision