Kitchen crew adjusting to new mandate



Every public school child in the country, according to Congress, deserves a healthy and delicious lunch, and that?s what the foods services director for Hillsboro Middle and High schools strives to maintain.

For Teresa Bernhardt, good, nutritional meals is what she has always tried to produce.

?I would encourage parents to come and eat here,? she said. ?When they look (at the menu) and see doughnuts, they might think of a glazed doughnut, but it?s a super doughnut using whole grains.?

She also talked about how the crust for the breakfast pizza also is whole grain.

?The breakfast pizza is made with more nutrition in it and the students love it,? Bernhardt said. ?It is a popular choice.?

Should a parent want to eat with his or her child, no forewarning or reservation is needed.

Unlike the elementary school, which has many parents visiting, the high school has open lunch. Bernhardt said she rarely knows how many will be eating that day because students can leave campus.

Proposed regulations

As part of the U.S. Depart?ment of Agriculture?s National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, public schools in Hillsboro and across the country are proposing healthier choices for students.

The reason for these changes, Bernhardt said, is the obesity problem in this country.

?The proposed regulations are in the federal register, and it?s 77 pages long,? she said.

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kid?s Act, passed in 2010, has the goal of increasing the availability of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat fluid milk, and reducing the levels of sodium and saturated fat in school meals.

For breakfast, the new guidelines call for an increase in fruits double the amount Bernhardt said they were previously serving.

For lunch, the greatest change is increasing vegetables by nearly four half-cup servings, or two full cups.

According to the new bill, the plan also involves revamping current lunch programs by replacing french fries, fried chicken, nachos, corndogs and other foods high in fat with organic alternatives.

When the NSLP was put into place in the late 1940s and the SBP was enacted in the mid 1970s, the goal was to fix hunger.

?(As a nation) we have fixed the hunger problem,? Bernhardt said, ?but now the federal government believes we have an obesity problem.

?Good nutrition can be looked at as part of the school?s curriculum,? she said. ?By teaching students to eat healthier, they could learn to make better choices on their own.?

Calorie counts

Hillsboro?s food services program, along with the other districts in the county, will have a tough time meeting the new guidelines because of the minimum and maximum calorie range.

The average calorie intake for lunch, Bernhardt said, is about 816 calories, which is between a mandated range of 750 and 850.

?We have a window of only 100 calories for the main meal,? she said. ?That?s equivalent to one of those little 100-calorie snack packs.?

She said whether or not students choose to eat the food served is up to them.

Reducing salt intake is also proposed in the new guidelines, but the amount of pepper is not controlled, she said.

Hillsboro?s elementary school also will follow the new guidelines.

Lunch schedule changes

School start times were moved from 8:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. for this year, and that means lunch has been moved back and breakfast is being moved up.

?Lunch for the middle school is at 11:32 a.m., and the high school will serve lunch at 12:21 p.m,? she said.

Last year, the middle/high school cafeteria served an average of 260 students.

Food is ordered on a weekly basis, she said, because of storage issues.

?We use the FIFO system,? she said, which means first in and first out. ?We do pay attention to safety.?

Annual changes

The introduction of new guidelines isn?t unusual, Bernhardt said.

?Every year the (government) changes something, striving always for healthier meals,? she said.

Bernhardt said she really liked the breakfast program when it was first introduced, because students need to eat a good breakfast, particularly if coaches have athletic practices in the morning.

Vending machines also are included in the wellness program.

?We have to meet those guidelines, too, in order to get funding?and we have been able to do that,? she said.

The percentage of foods in the vending machine have met standard guidelines, Bernhardt said, and the students approve what goes in.

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