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West Genesee school dietitian: Students help revamp menus

We are excited to roll out our new December Menu for each of our schools in the West Genesee School District. We have put much effort into meeting the tough new federal nutrition standards for school meals, ensuring that meals are healthy and well balanced and provide students with the nutrition and calories they need to get them through their school day. We were fortunate to meet with a great group of students who volunteered their time to help understand the guidelines and give feedback on what they would like to see on their menus. We have tried to incorporate their suggestions as best as we could.

Now is a great time to encourage your children to try our school lunches and encourage them to try everything offered to help fuel their body and their mind!

School meals must offer students five components daily. These components include milk, fruits, vegetables, protein and grains, and they must meet strict limits on saturated fat and portion size to meet the current regulations. This year, school lunches will also meet standards requiring:

—Age-appropriate calorie limits

—Larger servings of fruit and vegetables (students are now required to take at least one serving of fruit or vegetable, but are welcome to take more within the appropriate calorie budget)

—A good variety of vegetables will be offered to include dark green, red/orange, beans and peas, and starchy vegetables.

—Fat-free or 1%milk (flavored milk is required to be fat-free); More whole grains (whole grain breads, pasta and brown rice)

—Less sodium

This is an ongoing process! We are always working to offer West Genesee students healthier and tastier choices and we look forward to the student's feedback. School meals are a great value and a huge convenience for busy families.

Please call the West Genesee Food Service at 487-4661 with any questions you may have. For more information about the new federal nutrition standards and school meals visit schoolnutrition.org.

Julie Mellen RD, CDN, CDE, is School District Dietitian for West Genesee.

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