Newton County school meals meet federal nutrition standards

NCSS receives 6-cent reimbursement for early compliance

COVINGTON — All meals served at Newton County schools now meet new federal nutrition standards, making the school system eligible for a financial reimbursement. The Newton County School System’s School Nutrition Program was certified as of Oct. 4 to receive a 6-cent reimbursement on all meals served. The reimbursement will apply retroactively to each meal served since May 1, according to a press release from NCSS.

Newton County’s School Nutrition Program was certified by the Georgia Department of Education School Nutrition Program for meeting all qualifications of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s meal pattern for breakfast and lunch. Newton County is one of more than 115 school districts in Georgia to be certified, the release states.

Calls to the NCSS for more information were not returned by press time.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), signed by President Barack Obama in 2010 required school systems make changes in the meal pattern for school lunches and breakfasts served in cafeterias. As an incentive to implement these changes early, the law provides that an additional 6 cents be reimbursed to school districts that certify that each meal served meets the requirements of the new meal pattern, according to the press release.

In order to receive the 6-cents certification and comply with the new regulations, the Newton County School Nutrition Program made a number of changes to school breakfast and lunch meal patterns based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

According to these regulations, school meals must provide an appropriate number of calories for students based on their age group, with breakfast providing one-fourth, and lunch providing one-third, of their daily needs. In addition, only fat-free flavored or unflavored milk or 1 percent unflavored milk is offered to students.

Also, the new meal pattern requires that students are offered more servings, and a greater variety, of vegetables at lunch. In Newton County Schools, students are offered choices within the vegetable sub-groups including pinto and lima beans, black eyed peas, turnip greens, romaine lettuce salads, steamed broccoli, criss cut sweet potatoes, and oven baked sweet potato tots, the press release states.

More than half of the grains offered at breakfast and lunch are whole grain rich. In Newton County, this includes sandwich bread, hotdog and hamburger buns, hoagie rolls, tortillas, rice, and breakfast favorites such as cinnamon rolls and pancakes.