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School food regulations causing problems

The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act changes specific guidelines for the types of food allowed for students and Dothan City Schools say they're difficult to keep up with.

The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act took affect two years ago. The new act is aimed at healthier lunches to help have healthier students.

"Probably the biggest concern is childhood obesity and the increase in early onset diabetes in children, or type two diabetes that we're seeing in children became a concern and so the meal pattern again had not been updated and so they wanted to see some changes to hopefully combat those two areas," said Child Nutrition Program Director Tonya Greer.

But has it really helped all that much? The guidelines and rules are so strict many school systems are having trouble keeping up with each year’s new changes and Dothan City Schools is one of them.

"It’s been challenging. There’s only so many things kids will eat and there’s only so many things in those different sub groups that are financially, I guess, viable for a school to serve, because the reimbursement is still limited in terms of what you can spend on food costs,” said Greer.

The new implementation includes having 100 percent whole grain foods as well as a certain amount of fruits and vegetables each day. The vegetables are even broken down into sub categories depending on their color and vitamin content.

Many of the students are also having trouble getting acquainted with the new tastes.

"If we've made the move of at least 50 percent of the offerings being whole grain, you know, is it really beneficial to the child to serve them all whole grains and watch them throw it away. As opposed to giving them some whole grain and some refined grained and watching them consumes it," said Greer.

With only a few days before the new guidelines take effect there’s not much the schools can do.

"What we’re asking is for time to make sure everyone is on board and that we can get kids on board. You know, kids tastes aren't going to change as quickly as the regulation did,” said Greer.  “So let us may, hold right here for a minute and let’s get the changes we've already made fully, you know, implemented to the point children are accepting them before we make even more changes."

Greer says if the USDA does not get back with her in time for the changes they'll have to take items like whole grain pasta off of their menu.
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