Harrisburg School District looks ahead to healthier lunches - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Harrisburg School District looks ahead to healthier lunches

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For most of us, school is right around the corner.

Thanks to some new federal guidelines with the USDA and Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, millions of students will start to see healthier options on their lunch trays.

The new requirement for healthier lunches took effect during the most recent legislative session. A lot of districts have already taken steps ahead of the new mandate and brought healthier options, Sioux Falls public schools are some of them.

For others, like Harrisburg School District, this year will be a first for some big changes.

"What this is going to do is reduce entree size, reduce higher fat and calorie items. Kids will be getting more fiber, minerals, vitamins and it'll increase that in their diets which is something they need to do," Harrisburg Food Services Director Chris Beach said.

Students will see more fruits and green leafy vegetables like broccoli and spinach. They'll see more beans and whole grains, as well, and less of the trans fats, sugars, sodium and cholesterol.

"By going this direction, they show they're here for the kids and teaching and educating kids isn't just in the classroom, it's everywhere including their diets," Chris Andre said.

Andre has three kids at home and already promotes healthy eating. Now, schools will help kids make it more of a habit for life. 

"If we don't send a sack lunch with them, we know they'll have healthy options at school and they'll be fueled up for the day," Andre said.

"It's always important to get them started early. If they get started on the wrong track, they'll go back to it and it won't help them later in life," Dayleen Swanson said.

The district can't predict how the students will react, but they're staying optimistic.

"Until we get the kids in the building and see how they adjust, we have no idea. It'll be exciting to see what they have to say. More salads, and more fresh fruits, just to see their reactions," Chris Beach said.

Additionally, there's a little incentive involved. Once the district comes up with a solid menu, a copy is sent to the state agency for review. If it complies with healthier guidelines, the district can get reimbursed 6-cents/student in the district. That money will offset some of the higher costs of healthier foods.

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