PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (WFLA) — Federal healthy lunch guidelines, spearheaded by Michelle Obama, are up for debate with lawmakers right now. Schools could have some slightly new rules come September, in the meantime, Pinellas County schools will continue to follow the guidelines. Kids will get new tasty treats this year including revamped Cobb Salad.
“We’re getting a lot of our fruits and vegetables from local farms,” Lynn Geist, the Director of Food Services, said. “It’s really fun to support local business and get fresh produce.”
Under the current guidelines, kids are required to take a fruit or vegetable at every meal. A few months ago, 8 On Your Side watched dozens of kids throw away uneaten produce. Geist says there’s a “share table” where students can place the food they don’t want. Another issue parents question is the portion size. One of the new meals includes a roll that’s only one-ounce.
“Some probably will be hungry, I have to admit that,” Geist said. “But that’s just because they’re not used to proper portion sizes. We’re going by what they should be eating for their age.”
Kathy Wright appreciates that schools are stepping up their nutrition policies. She wishes she would’ve been healthier as a kid. “The school needs to do it because parents aren’t always there,” Wright said. “You have to get creative and think outside the box. You need to make them think they aren’t eating healthy when they actually are eating healthy.”
The cafeteria employees will also have better training this year. Although Geist says their employees always had room for professional development, this year it will be required. She also assured 8 On Your Side that even with growing costs of healthy food, Pinellas County has no plans on cutting back food service employee hours.