School Meals Regulations
Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act
The landmark legislation passed in 2010, The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA), made significant changes and provided great opportunities for improvement to the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program.
When the HHFKA was passed, we made immediate adjustments in our programs to align with new law and to make changes now that are going to be required in the future, such as:
- Providing only fat-free and low-fat milk, eliminating high fructose corn syrup in milk, and reducing total added sugar in flavored milk.
- Adding drinking water to all dining programs at no additional cost to students
- Promoting the availability of after-school meal programs that are offered in all 50 states.
New Meal Standards for Breakfast and Lunch
The HHFKA also called for an update to the national meal standards for the breakfast and lunch programs. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released these new standards in January 2012, and Chartwells has been hard at work preparing our districts to implement them beginning in the 2012-2013 school year. Below are some highlights of the new regulations:
- The new meal standards bring school meals in line with the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- These new school meal regulations will start in the 2012-2013 school year.
- Further changes to both breakfast and lunch will be required in following years (2013-2014 and 2014-2015).
Increase in Fruits and Vegetables
The new regulations require schools to offer a larger amount and increased variety of nutrient-dense vegetables over the course of the week, including dark green, orange, starchy vegetables and legumes (beans) and there is a minimum required each day.
- Fruit is required daily and at increased portion sizes.
- Requiring a greater quantity and variety of fruits and vegetables will expose students to more nutrient-dense foods that are a part of a healthy diet.
Allowable Grains and Proteins
- Menus must offer specific amounts of whole grains and proteins throughout the week, but cannot exceed maximum amounts defined for each grade group. Half of the grains offered at lunch each week must be whole grain rich.
- This requirement will apply to breakfast in school year 2013-2014, and by school year 2014-2015 only whole grain rich foods will be allowable in both the breakfast and lunch programs.
- Chartwells has already made great strides in increasing the variety of whole grains on our menus, serving items like whole grain pizza crust, rolls, muffins, pancakes, waffles and cereal.
Reduction of Saturated Fats, Sodium, and Elimination of Trans Fats
- School breakfasts and lunches offered to all age/grade groups must, on average over the school week, provide less than 10 percent of total calories from saturated fat.
- The new guidelines establish a timeline for reducing sodium in school meals significantly over the next 10 years.
- Chartwells chefs and registered dietitians have worked to modify and develop creative new recipes using non-salt seasonings, herbs and tasty fresh food.
- Under the new final rule, schools can only use food products and ingredients that contain zero grams of trans fat per serving, as indicated on the nutrition label, beginning in 2012 for lunch and 2013 for breakfast.
Menus by Age Groups
- The regulations established new grade groups for menu planning, aimed at ensuring students receive age-appropriate portions and nutrients. The groups include:
- Grades K-5 (ages 5-10 years)
- Grades 6-8 (ages 11-13 years)
- Grades 9-12 (ages 14-18 years)
- New calorie requirements were also developed to align with the newly established grade groups.
- Menus must provide adequate, but not excessive, calories for the various age groups.
Our chefs and dietitians developed new products, recipes, and menus to meet the new standards while continuing to offer the quality and variety students love. Here are just a few more highlights of what Chartwells is doing to implement the new standards successfully in our cafeterias:
- New Pizza and Wraps – The new regulations have put limits on the amount of grains offered to students over the course of the week. This means some recipes and products needed to be adjusted and decreased in size to fit the meal pattern. Though we achieved this goal with our revision of our pizza and wrap recipes, we also feel students will still find these items just as tasty and satisfying as they did before.
- Enticing Serving Solutions – All student meals must now include a fruit or vegetable according to the new regulations. We’ve developed menus, recipes, and serving line set ups that will make it easier, and hopefully more appealing, for students to select a balanced, complete meal.
- Student Communication – It’s important students understand the changes going on in the cafeteria. That’s why we’ve provided public address (PA) announcements for schools to read over the intercom system during the school day, covering a variety of topics and highlighting foods on the menu.
- Informational Posters and Signs – To ensure students understand what comes with their meal and what they must select for a complete student meal, we’ve developed a variety of posters and signs for the cafeteria and serving line in elementary, middle, and high schools.
As leaders in nutrition, we strive to spread our knowledge of health and wellness to students, teachers, parents, the community, and our associates. Through learning opportunities and communications, we extend hot topics, nutritional information, and healthy recipes far beyond our kitchens. We have a wide variety of educational and informational programs – just a few are described below.
Monthly Food Focuses
Our Food Focus program highlights a different group of nutritious foods each month and links the menu to nutrition education in the cafeteria and classroom. The highlighted foods are offered on the menu and nutrition messages about the foods are posted both on the menu and throughout the cafeteria. In-cafeteria culinary demonstration tables featuring tasty recipes and nutrition information also help to engage students. Teachers have the option to post information about the Food Focus in their classroom or hallways via our ready-to-print-and-post bulletin board materials. Finally, teachers are encouraged to conduct a 10-minute lesson with their students highlighting the Food Focus of the month.
10-Minute Nutrition and Sustainability Lessons
The Chartwells nutrition team has developed 10-Minute Nutrition Lesson Plans for teachers as a quick way to teach nutrition concepts to their students. The lessons are designed to maximize instructional time and require little or no materials. With a variety of topics to choose from, and lessons being broken down by grade level so that teachers can more easily incorporate nutrition into their daily lesson plans. Educators can access the lessons on our online Teacher Resource Website, and also find additional free resources for teaching nutrition education to students.
Chartwells Classroom Connect and Kids Eat Right
Childhood obesity is a national concern of growing importance to schools and parents alike. We are taking a leadership position in the industry by partnering with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to bring the Kids Eat Right Campaign to your schools and community. We’ve developed a school-specific program, Chartwells Classroom Connect, to bring Chartwells and local registered dieticians to the classroom to provide nutrition education.
National Nutrition Month
Our annual National Nutrition Month campaign is designed by our nutrition teams and combines healthy eating information with unique recipes that utilize nutrient-dense foods that taste great. The program includes:
- Classroom activities
- Themed cafeteria meals
- Displays and taste tests
Partnersthip with MyPlate and USDA
Chartwells is the first foodservice company that is a National Strategic Partner in the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP). We work with the USDA to get the message out to customers about MyPlate and the Dietary Guidelines, and also work directly with CNPP to develop and execute a strategic nutrition promotion plan.