FULTON - Fulton Public Schools are changing their meal plans to adapt to new federal guidelines this school year. Fulton schools open Wednesday and students can expect to see several new changes.
The new requirements feature:
- Changes to serving sizes
- Setting maximum calorie limits for meals
- Limiting the amount of meat/meat alternatives and grains
- Increasing servings of fruit and vegetables
Students are now required to include a half-cup of fruits or vegetables on their trays. If they do not, it is not a full meal according to U.S.D.A. guidelines for a reimbursable meal. Failing to meet those guidelines means that everything on the student's tray will be charged as individual items.
The schools' snack bars will still remain, but popular items such as slushies or nachos and cheese will be provided in smaller servings, or made with healthier ingredients. The Little Debby cakes will be replaced by low-fat cookies, but there is a limit on how many a student may buy at once.
The changes come on the heels of a new study, which said childhood obesity rates could decrease if states implement strict laws curbing the sales of junk food and sweetened drinks at schools. The study, released by the journal Pediatrics, analyzed data from 6,300 students in fifth through eighth grades across 40 states.
The study compared states with laws governing the sale of food and drinks in public school vending machines and school stores, outside of designated meal times, with those that don't. Researchers collected the height and weight of fifth graders in the spring of 2004, and again in the spring of 2007 after eighth grade.
According to the study, 39 percent of children in states with consistently strong nutrition laws in both elementary and middle schools were overweight when the study began. That figure dropped to 34 percent in eighth grade. The study refers to strong laws as laws with specific nutrition requirements, such as limits on sugars and fats.
21 percent of all fifth graders in those states were obese in 2004, and that amount decreased to nearly 18 percent in eighth grade.
The study said the states without strong laws saw little to no decrease in overweight and obesity rates between fifth and eighth grade. The national childhood obesity rate is close to 20 percent.