Greenville High School students taking a stance against new lunch regulations


By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 10:31 am on Monday, October 29, 2012

Fruit is something Greenville Public Schools officials planned to encourage more of. However, because of new food regulations, fruits have to be monitored so students do not go over their allotted calorie intake. — Daily News/Cory Smith

GREENVILLE — Some seniors at Greenville High School are banding together to make a difference so students don’t feel hungry due to new food regulations.

New requirements headed by first lady Michelle Obama and members of Congress went into effect across the nation this school year.

After hearing some students were still hungry because of these regulations, students decided to work together to try to get things changed.

 Student body

“We know nothing is going to happen tomorrow,” said Dakota Sherrick, 17. “But we want to make a difference for (younger) students.”

The committee, which consists of six seniors, has organized meetings with school officials and has been gathering opinions from other students through a Facebook page (“Greenville students against govt. regulated lunches”), which had just under 1,000 “likes” in just a few days.

A group of seniors banded together to help change the new regulations put into effect this school year so students do not go hungry. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Some of the new regulations include only serving 10 to 12 ounces of protein to each student per week, 10 to 12 ounces of grain to each student per week — half of the grains must to whole grains — one cup of vegetables to each student per day — must include five different kinds of vegetables a week — along with other regulations in additional food groups.

Schools receive federal funding to follow these regulations as schools are required to offer meals for free and reduced lunches.

Alex Karatkiewicz, 17, said they the student committee has heard from athletes the most about these new regulations as they sometimes don’t get a chance to eat again after lunch until late in the evening because of practice or games.

Kyle Koett, 17, agreed students are still hungry after lunch and noted students can get more food if they pay for it. However, committee members said this option is not possible for some students, especially students with free and reduced lunches, and that is the reason why the committee wants to be a voice for students to get the regulations changed.

For some students, school lunches are the only meal they get, said Samantha O’Herron, 18. She asked if they are not getting enough at lunch, then where are they going to get the food they need?

“One free meal should be a meal, not a snack,” she said.

Megan O’Brien said students are still growing and they need more than 10 ounces of protein a week.

“We are not all identical,” O’Brien said.

Karatkiewicz said the new regulations are based on the average student, noting in the senior class, there is a student who is more than 6 feet tall, and one who is about 5 feet tall, both of whom need different amounts of food.

“Who is to say what the average student is?” Karatkiewicz asked.

The committee wants their voices to be heard to start something, with the understanding that change will not come right away. However, they said they want change for the younger students so that possibly, next year, students will not be hungry after lunch.

“We are not doing this because we are seniors — we aren’t doing this for us,” Sherrick said. “But we are doing it for everyone.”

Kyle Koett, 17, said the next step for students is trying to talk to government officials, possibly even calling the Michelle Obama’s office.

“We have talked about making a video and sending it to the state,” Koett said.

Food and nutrition director

Greenville Public Schools Food and Nutrition Director Kenneth Poor said he is very impressed with how the students are handling the situation to try to make a difference.

“They have been so mature dealing with this,” Poor said. “They are not angry and are taking the right approach.”

Since beginning the school year under new regulations, Poor said the situation has been tough. He has been spending 15 to 20 hours per week trying to plan meals that satisfy the new regulations, stay within the calorie requirements and find products from vendors that will work.

“It’s like putting together a puzzle.” he said. “It’s much more complicated than in previous years.”

Greenville Public School Food and Nutrition Director Kenneth Poor goes over the program he uses to help make sure he stays within the new food regulations and calories set for students this year. — Daily News/Kelli Ameling

As the school recently ended its open-campus policy, Poor said a remodel of the cafeteria was done to offer more for students to eat, such as a large salad and fruit bar, and with more options for the students to choose from. However, because of the regulations, things such as the salad and fruit bar have to be monitored to make sure students are not going over their allotted amount.

“Our goal (this year) was to encourage fruits,” Poor said. “Now we have to limit them because they contain calories through their natural sugars.”

Poor agreed students can always buy more food through the a la carte line such as pizza, snacks, cookies and more, as the regulations are only required for the food the school has to provide for free and reduced lunches.

“There is good intention behind the regulations,” Poor said. “But there are flaws in the plan. One size does not fit all.”

As both committee members and Poor pointed out, students with free or reduced lunches have a hard enough time paying for one lunch, let alone buying more food because they are still hungry.

“There is an issue there,” he said. “We can’t offer more (to the students) through free and reduced lunches.”

Poor has talked to other school districts about thenew  regulations and said students being hungry is a problem all over —not just at Greenville Public Schools.

Poor said the biggest outcry from students has come from athletes.

“They need more calories per day than a student who does not participate in athletics after school,” he said.

One of Poor’s biggest problems when trying to meet regulations is finding vendors that offer the right amount of portions. He said vendors are also busy trying to create products that can be sold to schools, such as a 2-ounce burger, which will help schools stay between the 10 to 12 ounces of protein a week.

Poor plans to work with the student committee to see if changes can be made.

“They are such good kids,” Poor said. “I am thrilled to be in Greenville.”

 

PROTEIN NEEDS

How much protein a person needs per day:

(According to Harvard University’s nutrition website)

“There is no one-size-fits-all answer. The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults get a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day — that’s about 58 grams (a little less than 2 ounces) for a 160 pound adult.”

FOOD REGULATION

New food regulations for the National School Lunch Program:

(www.fns.usda.gov)

Vegetables

• ¾ – 1 cup of vegetables (per day) that include dark green, red/orange, beans/peas, starchy and others per week

Meat/meat alternative (Protein)

• Grades K-5: 8-10 ounces per week

• Grades 6-8: 9-10 ounces per week

• Grades 9-12: 10-12 ounces per week

Grains (at least half have to be whole grains)

• Grades K-5: 8-10 ounces per week

• Grades 6-8: 9-10 ounces per week

• Grades 9-12: 10-12 ounces per week

Milk

• 1 cup — must be fat-free or 1 percent

Fruits

• Grades K-5: 7-10 ounces per week

• Grades 6-8: 8-10 ounces per week

• Grades 9-12: 9-10 ounces per week

Calories (for lunch)

• Grades K-5: 550-650 per day

• Grades 6-8: 600-700 per day

• Grades 9-12: 750-850 per day

 

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