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Wed., Oct. 7
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Bread break: schools react to USDA policy


Chicken nuggets and submarine sandwiches for all.

New U.S. Department of Agriculture school lunch regulations now allow unlimited grain and meat products on the menu for the remainder of the year, creating breathing room for lunch managers everywhere.

Since September, cafeterias could only serve a high school student 10 to 12 ounces each of grain and meat products per week.

A School Nutrition Association news release sent to schools Friday evening states the weekly maximums might be reinstated next year depending on feedback. However, daily calorie maximums will remain unchanged

At Sackets Harbor Central, cafeteria manager Todd C. Marshall said this may mean the return of chicken nuggets. The item was taken off the menu because servings were forced by the weekly limits to be too small. Some students were buying two lunches. Others started brown-bagging from home.

However, if Mr. Marshall can find a way to bring chicken nuggets back while keeping them under the calorie maximum allowance, they may appear on the menu soon.

“The guidelines are tough to follow, and maybe they realize they were doing too many things at once,” he said.

Sackets Harbor parent Jamie L. McGuire thinks the regulation change is a move in the right direction.

She and parent Sarah J. Gordon started an online petition titled “NY School Lunch: Smaller Portions, Hungry Kids” at the beginning of the school year after students began to complain about the reduced number of chicken nuggets they were allowed to eat. As of Monday afternoon, the petition had 5,291 signatures.

Their concern was that students who could not afford breakfast or a proper dinner at home were not getting enough calories at school to make it through the day.

“Protein and grains will get to the kids a little more than the fruits and vegetables,” Mrs. McGuire said.

Food Service Manager for the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services Arlis M. “Artie” Frego was not available to comment. In past interviews, he expressed concern over students living in poverty who stopped buying free or reduced lunch because it was not appealing.

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