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How Schools can Meet USDA Lunch Requirements During Covid-19

The worldwide covic-19 pandemic has exerted a major influence over the way we have lived for the last few months. In the USA, with businesses and schools shut and entire cities locked down, things have been very different. Now that life is slowly coming back to some sense of normality and schools have reopened, there are still many precautions in place and problems involved in the day to day operation of schools. Meals have been one area that has been affected.

In many areas the school lunch policy follows rules set down in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) which is a federally supported scheme ensuring children who are in need get suitably fed. This is overseen and determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USAD) which specifies the ideal ingredients in school meals. It has been difficult for some schools to stick to their ways to adhered to USAD requirements during the crisis, so here are some ideas on how to keep things in line with the regulations.

What the Regulations Say

The idea behind the USDA requirements for lunches is that children get the correct amount of nourishment throughout the week with limits on calories and fats and sodium. The recipes are designed to encourage the right mix of vegetables, fruit and wholegrain-rich meals and to help children enjoy a balanced diet. This is, of course, not the easiest task!

However, there are ways in which – even during these challenging times when getting hold of some ingredients and foodstuff can be difficult – schools can keep to the requirements, and we’ve investigating them.

What we found is a very useful resource called NutriStudents K-12 which is dedicated to this very purpose – ensuring there is variety in school meals while keeping to the requirements as laid out. They have some excellent ideas and great tips, some of which we think are worth mentioning here, so let’s check some out in more detail.

Getting Kids to Eat Healthily

One of the biggest problems lies in getting children to eat the right things. A way of getting around this is to present certain items where they may not be expected. For example, try adding vegetables to items such as meatballs and other foods, so that the children get their vegetable nutrient but not so obviously. It’s a case of disguising what they might not want to eat in a tasty and healthy fashion.

Another tip is to make sure you offer interesting sauces as dips for vegetables, which is something children may not be familiar with but might enjoy. Or you could talk to your suppliers about healthy versions of kid’s favorites – these are often available these days n healthy form – and see how you can replace hard to find items with those that are nutritious and meet the requirements.

The use of fresh herbs and spices in many recipes is also a great way of adding something interesting to potentially bland meals. You’ll be surprised what a light sprinkling of chilli r curry powder can do to even the simplest of meat dishes, which when presented with a side of vegetables will be a welcome change.

It has been a difficult time for everyone, and for kids these past few months have been confusing and out of the ordinary. This sort of situation does not bode well for kids who are not easiest to feed, so being constructive within the required meal guidelines certainly helps. Check out the many recipe ideas for USDA regulation school meals, and you’ll find some great ideas that are just right for the moment.

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