School Lunch Size Decreases With New Guidelines

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School lunches are getting smaller in the San Diego Unified School District under a new, more strict food guideline.

The 2010 "Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act" enhanced the nutritional quality of food served in school-based and preschool settings nationwide, but also decreased portion size.

The University of San Diego held a panel discussion on improving school lunches throughout the district and the issues some students are having with the new meals.

In the panel was San Diego Unified School District's Food Service Director, Gary Petill, who talked about the new implementation that started this school year.

"The biggest thing that has changed nationwide is that all children have to take a minimum of a half of cup of fruits and vegetables," said Petill.

He added that all schools in the district have salad bars and nearly 50 percent of the produce comes from local, organic farms.

These healthier options don't seem to be too popular with the students so far, and Petill expressed his concern for the future.

"There is going to be more waste," said Petill, "There may be, but we're actually looking at retooling our menus right now for January and giving less choices, right now in a week at a high school, you have 21 different entree choices."

With less options, he hopes that students won't feel so overwhelmed when picking a lunch and hopefully, not waste as much food.

As far as solving major health issues like obesity in youth, the district says it's too early to tell.

However, they hope that students are eating those fruits and vegetables with their school lunches to ensure a healthier lifestyle.

"It's a way to teach children long-life learning habits," said Petill.

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