The start of the 2012-2013 school year marked a change in what students can purchase in the cafeteria and in the Maple Tree.
According to the most recent Sodexo Newsletter, federal USDA regulations have changed for the first time in 15 years.
“This rule requires schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat fluid milk in school meals,” the Sodexo newsletter stated. “(Other needs include) reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat and trans fat in meals; and meet the nutrition needs of school children within their calorie requirements.”
Sodexo recognizes that current changes are not set in stone, as they are still trying to understand all the requirements themselves.
According to Principal Dee Lancaster, Seaholm is just beginning to adjust to the new regulations.
“It’s truly in effect the start of next school year,” Lancaster said. “We are just staring to phase it in.”
Currently, the Maple Tree and Snack bar part of the cafeteria are still able to sell items like cookies and candy because the regulations are not officially in effect. According to Lancaster, this will begin to change once the current stock depletes.
“Right now, the cafeteria is just using up the rest of their stock,” Lancaster said.
Lancaster said in addition to regulations on the nutrition content of the food, there are also regulations that insure there are no outside entities, such as the Maple Tree, compete with sales in the cafeteria
“What’s just beginning to be phased in this year is a no competition policy,” Lancaster said. “That means that next year we won’t be able to sell things like the ice cream and cookies in the snack area or the Maple Tree.”
Maple Tree Advisor Barbara Slatin said the new standards will affect how the Maple Tree does business. She says that it has created the need for students to come up with new products to sell.
“We are scaling back items that have high sugar content and we have to find healthy replacements that meet the new regulations,” Slatin said.
More than just the Maple Tree, Lancaster said that other groups will be affected by the new regulations because of the competition policy.
“Clubs can’t do bake sales anytime the cafeteria is also selling food,” Lancaster said.
According to Lancaster, the regulations mean the only time bake sales could possibly happen is after school, when the cafeteria is closed. Currently, the cafeteria doesn’t take federal funding for breakfast, but Lancaster said they will most-likely start this next year, meaning no bakes sales during X-Block.
With all the new specific regulations being phased in, Lancaster is unsure of the regulation’s effectiveness in teaching kids life-long healthy habits.
“I have mixed feelings about it,” Lancaster said. “I’m a believer in that you teach them in moderation.”
Lancaster said completely taking away all unhealthy foods from Seaholm may have adverse consequences. She agrees that making healthier choices is a good thing, but thinks it is also crucial that students can monitor their own intake of unhealthy food.
According to Lancaster, the administration has found one small loophole in the new food plans- there are no specific requirements on food placed in vending machines.
“Right now they aren’t regulating vending machines, so there can still be junk in vending machines,” Lancaster said.
Although there are no current restrictions on vending machines, Lancaster did note that this could change in the future. However, Seaholm is currently sticking to the foods that have been in the machines in the past.
The only regulation that applies to the vending machines is that they must be turned off when the cafeteria is selling food, so that they do not compete with food sales.
Even though the regulations aren’t in effect yet, Assistant Principal Deb Boyer said Seaholm’s food supplier, Sodexo, has been trying to transition cafeteria food to healthier options over the past couple years.
“They have been trying to move in that direction for quite some time,” Boyer said.
Boyer also believes that this transition will be relatively painless process, as Sodexo wants to make the food meet regulations while still tasting good.
“Sodexo is trying to develop, within the guidelines, things that will attract students and keep them here for lunch,” Boyer said.