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KP Cafeterias Looking For Options Amid New Regulations

With the 2011 law regulating school lunches and snacks going into effect this year, the KP School District has found themselves limited in what they can serve.

For the parents of King Philip students, maybe they’ve already heard the complaints from their kids about the changes concerning the lunches and snacks at school. The kids however, are not alone as even Cafeteria Director Mary Ann Reynolds is feeling the effects of the new rules and regulations.

This school year is the first under a law passed by the state in 2011 that regulates what can and cannot be served in school. With vending machine snacks and flavored drinks just a couple of the popular items gone, the cafeterias in the King Philip School District are looking quite different compared to last year.

“It’s really limiting us as far as what we can put out there,” Reynolds said Monday night to the KP School Committee. “We are pretty limited this year as far as what we sell a la carte.” 

With the law cracking down on snacks and drinks, students can say goodbye to drinks like Vitamin Water and ice tea. Beverage that are 100% juice are still allowed to be served but the serving can be no larger than 4oz.

Only water and carbonated water can be served by the school during lunch.

Even milk is not immune to the regulations that went into effect this year. Under the new rules, all milk has to be either 1% or skim. Flavored milk was approved for this year as the version being sold in the schools is skim milk and has under 22 grams of sugar but Reynolds admitted that could change next year. The serving at both schools was also decreased from 10 ounces to eight.

When it comes to snacks like chips and cookies, the serving size cannot contain no more than 200 calories, under 35 grams of fat and under 200mg of sodium.

One of the places where the school district will feel the the biggest impact is in the school vending machines that are now empty. With the vending machines that reside in KP High School out of use, the school will be missing a large chunk of cash that was once a reliable source of revenue. Currently, the school cannot put anything in the vending machine that does not fit into the guidelines set by the state.

“Down the road...it’s probably going to hurt us in the money department pretty big this year. Normally the snacks and the drinks we would go though alone were massive and we’re not doing very much right now,” Reynolds said.

One of the changes that the school is happy about is the increase in fruits and vegetables served. In fact, the district will be getting six cents per a meal from the federal government along with two cases of canned fruit and two more of sweet potatoes.

According to the calorie guidelines, a entrée at the high school can still go up to nearly 800 calories but there is going to be an effort to lower the sodium levels according to Reynolds. 51% of the grains and breads served has to be whole grain with that number going up to 100% by 2014.

The most telling tale showing the effects of the new rules came from Superintendent Elizabeth Zielinski who mentioned that she talked to a student who said that she hated the food so much that she was willing to skip lunch and have a late lunch at home. While last year the lunches were able to hold her over until dinner, she found this year’s offerings to be unappetizing. 

While the school has to abide by the rules, students who bring in their own lunches will not have to worry about making sure their lunch matches the state’s standards.

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