Nutrition and Menu Philosophy
While school districts have some flexibility in what foods we offer to our students, we are required to plan our menus in accordance with guidelines set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 continues to bring changes to menu items and meal selections to the cafeteria. These regulations reflect the Institute of Medicine’ report: “School Meals: Building Blocks for Healthy Children” and the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines are designed to increase the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; reduce the sodium and fat content of items served; and provide appropriate portion sizes for each age group.
These guidelines translate into the following changes in the cafeteria:
- Students are required to take a fruit or vegetable with every meal
- A weekly requirement for new vegetable subgroups served: dark green, red/orange, beans/peas, starchy, and “other” to ensure a variety of vitamins and minerals are available
- Weekly ranges for meat/meat alternates, grains, fruits, and vegetables, with daily minimums
- 80% of grains offered must be whole grain rich. Remaining grains must be enriched.
- Zero trans fat in all items, and saturated fat limited to less than 10% of calories
- Calorie ranges with minimum and maximum levels for each age group at lunch
- Water will be available during all lunch periods
We typically offer more than the minimum number of calories required by the USDA, because we offer significantly more servings of fruits and vegetables than the 5 cups/week that are required.
Disclaimer: Nutrient values are useful guides but must be considered estimates. The nutrient content of a food can vary due to natural factors like soil quality and climate as well as processing and preparation variations. Manufacturers may change their formulation without our knowledge. And, the portion sizes may vary slightly which will affect the nutrient content. Please consider this information carefully when making selections.
Want more information on the new USDA regulations?
Special Diet Concern
Background: Saint Paul Public Schools Nutrition Services provides meals to students through federally funded Child Nutrition Programs. One of our responsibilities is to make accommodations for students who are unable to eat school meals because of a disability that restricts their diet. In order to make modifications or substitutions to the school meal, schools must have a written Medical Statement on file that is signed by a licensed physician or other State licensed health care professional authorized to write medical prescriptions under State law.
1. The first step to making accommodations is to ask a licensed health provider to complete the attached form. Approved providers include licensed physician, physician assistant, or an advanced practice registered nurse, such as a certified nurse practitioner.
2. The statement must include:
- The child’s disability
- An explanation of why the disability restricts the child’s diet
- The major life activity affected by the disability
- The food(s) to be omitted from the child’s diet
- The food or choice of foods that must be provided as the substitute
3. Submit the form to the nurse at your child’s school.
4. Your child’s diet restrictions will be noted in our School Lunch software.
Students with lactose intolerance do not need a Special Diet Statement for a milk substitute. Please let the nurse at your child’s school know that your child is lactose intolerant, and lactose-free milk will be provided.
Requests related to religious or moral convictions or personal preference may be accommodated. When these requests are accommodated, NS is required to ensure that all USDA meal pattern and nutrient requirements are met.
If you have any questions please contact Cole Welhaven at 651-523-6328 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sending your child with life-threatening food allergies off to school can feel overwhelming.
How can you help them attend school safely every day? You want to be proactive. Start by following these steps for managing food allergies in the school setting then read our full guidance for parents, the result of a collaboration between FARE, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other organizations.
1. Become Informed and Educated. This means being well versed in your child’s particular allergy. It also helps to be familiar with your school’s approach to managing food allergies.
2. Prepare and Provide Information About Your Child’s Food Allergy and Medication. Start with a copy of your child’s Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan. Submit the document along with at least one epinephrine auto-injector and any other prescribed medication to treat his or her reactions.
3. Build a Team. To successfully transition your child into school, you must partner with a team of key people who play a role in food allergy management. This group includes the school nurse, teachers, administrators, cafeteria staff, maintenance staff, transportation staff, coaches, other parents and your child’s classmates. Maintain an open dialogue as they learn what they need to know about food allergies. Let them know they can call you with questions, suggestions or concerns.
4. Help Ensure Appropriate Storage and Administration of Epinephrine. Know where your child’s prescribed epinephrine is located at school, who has access to it and who will give the medication in the event of an emergency.
5. Help Reduce Food Allergens in the Classroom(s). Speak with your child’s teacher(s) about the role of food in the classroom. Determine strategies to help avoid your child’s exposure to food allergens and lower the risk of an allergic reaction. This checklist for teachers can help.
6. Consider School Meals. Whether your child eats food from home or orders from the cafeteria, there are effective ways to accommodate food allergies at mealtimes.
7. Address Transportation Issues. Keep in mind that children don't only ride buses to and from school. They also ride these vehicles during field trips and for some after-school activities.
8. Prepare for Field Trips and Extracurricular Activities. Your child’s food allergy should not prevent him or her from participating in these activities. Ask for advance notice, so you can address any food allergy concerns.
9. Assist Your Child with Self-Management. For children with food allergies, preventing allergic reactions involves making good choices, advocating for themselves and recognizing potentially dangerous situations. And their responsibilities can grow with them as they get older.
Nutrition Services (NS) values whole, natural, nourishing foods. For years, NS has worked to remove ingredients that adversely affect health, and serve more wholesome foods in their place. This is a commitment that remains a work in progress. Our commitment is the foundation of our menu philosophy.
Here's more information on how Nutrition Services handles particular food allergies.
Contact Nutrition Services if you have concerns about your child's specific dietary needs.