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Heuvelton schools prepared for new lunch rules

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HEUVELTON – As other districts are losing student enrollment in the free and reduced lunch program while the new federally mandated Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act is implemented, Heuvelton Central School has not seen a similar decline thanks to preemptive measures over the past several years.

The Act mandates that schools looking to continue to receive federal funding for their free and reduced lunch programs must decrease the amount of calories students are taking in at school and provide more vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

“We don’t have anybody throwing away food,” said Superintendent Susan E. Todd at Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting.

Roughly 40 percent of Heuvelton’s students are eligible for free or reduced lunches said Ms. Todd.

Ms. Todd said she understands and appreciates the reasons behind the mandate.

A recent study of Heuvelton students found that 49 percent are overweight or obese.

“I was pretty alarmed when I saw the information,” said Ms. Todd. She said she will be interested to see how the numbers change over the next few years with this new program.

Steven G. Adams, cafeteria manager, said “I try to stay from as much processed food and canned food as I can.”

Mr. Adams said he was aware of the changing standards before they were enforced this year and has been attempting to be in compliance ahead of schedule to make the transfer more palatable for students.

The past three years, said Mr. Adams, has seen Heuvelton only serving 1 percent milk, something that is now required by the new rules.

Likewise the school was already using whole grain bread for most items and is now switching over to using whole grain crusts for its pizza.

Ms. Todd said the kids haven’t minded the changes at Heuvelton. “It’s been so political to the degree there’s been a lot of misinformation,” she said.

“Overall we’re doing, and have been doing, what we need to do,” she added.

Mr. Adams said he has not seen a decline in the number of students taking free or reduced lunches.

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