School nutritionists ready for new meals

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 3, 2012




When students sit down in the cafeteria at the start of school, it will be in front of meals with age appropriate calorie limits and more fruits and vegetables.

The changes are part of a new federal mandate on nutrition standards that went into effect on July 1.

In the Andalusia City School System, child nutrition director Stephanie Dillard said systems knew these changes were forthcoming last year; therefore, they  added fresh fruit or vegetable items at various times for students to try and test.

School meals offer students milk, fruits and vegetables, proteins and grains, and they must meet strict limits for saturated fat and portion size. Starting this fall, school lunches will meet additional standards requiring:

• age-appropriate calorie limits;

• larger servings of vegetables and fruits, and students must take at least one serving of produce;

• a wider variety of vegetables, including dark green and red/orange vegetables and legumes (beans);

• fat-free or 1 percent milk. Flavored milk must be fat-free;

• more whole grains;

• and less sodium.

“We’re always working to offer Andalusia City School students healthier and tastier choices,” Dillard said. “In addition to meeting new nutrition standards, we’re also providing nutrition education and taste tests on healthier options.”

The same can be said for the Covington County and Opp City school systems.

Carrie Patterson, child nutrition director for the CCS, said staff worked this summer to ensure that “we not only meet the new standards, but that we also serve items our students will like.”

“One challenge has been meeting and not exceeding the different age calorie limits and of course, lowering sodium levels,” she said. “Our goal is to serve our students safe and nutritious meals which is an integral part of student achievement.”

At the ACS and CCS systems, the cost for school lunch is $2 for paying students and 40 cents for those paying reduced costs, and breakfast is 75 cents.

Parents in all systems also have convenient online payment systems – for ACS students and for CCS students– where parents can not only monitor a child’s meal balance, but also see a daily account of what they’re spending money on.

In Opp, Heather Short, child nutrition director, said the schools have adjusted to the new changes.

“And I’m proud that we won’t have any increases for breakfast or lunch prices this year,” she said.

Opp’s prices will remain at 75 cents for breakfast for paying students and 30 cents for reduced students at all schools and lunch will remain the same at $1.75 for Opp Elementary and Opp Middle paying students and $2 for Opp High paying students. The cost is 40 cents for those paying the reduced meal rate.

OCS is also offering an online payment option for parents through their website at

-Kendra Bolling contributed to this report.