RYE, N.Y. - Students around the country may notice some healthier dining options in the cafeteria, but for Rye students, available food options already meet federal needs.
Under new United States Department of Agriculture requirements, one of the three food components students choose must be a fruit or vegetable.
John Rubbo, food services director for the Rye City School District, said no major changes were made to school lunches this year because the schools already meet national standards.
“As in the past few years, the district offers various fresh fruit choices with lunch as well as some canned fruit in natural syrup,” Rubbo said in an email. “They offer carrot sticks and an additional two vegetable choices besides the vegetable of the day.”
Daily vegetables are almost 100 percent fresh, Rubbo added.
Other new federal requirements include banning anything more than one percent milk, and all flavored milk, including chocolate milk, must be fat-free. In addition, schools that do not have a water fountain in the cafeteria must provide water with cups. Use of starches in school lunches is also being cut back significantly.
In Rye, children are offered several, low-fat milk options, 100 percent fruit juices and bottled water is for sale.
The new meal requirements, which were first announced in January, will raise nutritional standards for the first time in more than 15 years and are intended to improve the health and nutrition of the nearly 32 million children who participate in school meal programs.
The requirements are a key component of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by the First Lady Michelle Obama part of her Let’s Move! campaign and signed into law by her husband, President Barack Obama.
Rye schools offer the “Type A Meal” at all schools to meet the National School Lunch Program standard. All schools also offer a la carte items and a vegetarian meal option each day.
“The entree courses are all under constant upgrade as the manufacturers change,” Rubbo wrote. “The chicken product used is all whole meat and not processed.”
In addition, snacks are kept to a minimum selection and low in fat and sugar, and the district is always careful of allergen issues with students, he said.
Parents and students can check out all the schools’ menus online.