Tuesday, April 10, 2012

KCKPS students, parents to sample menu items that meet the new USDA requirements

New nutrition guidelines set by the USDA will require school meals to take on a new look beginning with the 2012-2013 school year.

Some of the requirements being phased in include boosting the offering of whole grain-rich foods, decreasing sodium, providing zero trans fat products, and ensuring that students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day.

The Nutritional Services Department in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools has already instituted many of these changes. But they will be looking for new menu items that meet these criteria this week during their Taste of 500 event.

Held annually, Taste of 500 is a food tasting fair that allows students to sample food items from a number of food service brokers and then provide feedback on the taste and quality. The event will be held from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Friday, April 13 at J.C. Harmon High School.

“Many of the products that will be available to sample at the fair are ones that have been developed specifically to meet the USDA’s new nutrition standards,” said Karla Floyd, nutritional services director.

Student representatives from grades 2-11 have been invited to participate. For the first time this year, parents of students also have been invited to taste food products that could be featured in their students’ meals. The food items presented will be evaluated using a simple scoring technique. Positive responses will be considered for upcoming school menus.

KCKPS has been ahead of the process of instituting the new nutrition requirements for several years. All schools already offer skim or low-fat milk, along with a variety of fruits and vegetables of many colors, plus additional whole grains.