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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

FCPS Introduces All Star Lunch Program to Promote Healthier Eating

Students in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) will see some changes in school cafeterias when they return for the 2012-13 school year, including the new All Star Lunch program, based on new federal nutrition standards, created by FCPS’ Office of Food and Nutrition Services (FNS).

The All Star Lunch program teaches students about the five components of a healthy lunch: protein, grains, milk, fruits, and vegetables. Elementary school students who purchase lunch may select three, four, or all five of the stars and will be required to select a serving of fruit or vegetables as part of their lunch. Seasonally-grown fruits and vegetables from individual school gardens and the Virginia Farm to School program are used in school lunches whenever possible.

Students learn about nutrition in the classroom as part of the established curriculum as well as from FNS staff members. The All Star Lunch program complements the curriculum and is designed to encourage students to make healthy choices while eating at school.

Registered dietitians and chefs have been creating school meals to conform to the new federal requirements and reflect students’ personal preferences, which are registered at monthly student taste parties. 

Among the changes to FCPS school lunches, based on the new federal nutrition standards, are:

  •  A reduction in calories, tailored to the grade level of the students.
  •  Reduced protein (meat and meat alternates) portions for students in grades K-5.
  • Limited numbers of servings of whole grain-rich breads and cereals.
  • A choice of only fat-free flavored or unflavored milk or one percent unflavored milk.
  • A focus on reducing saturated fats and sodium and serving foods with zero trans fats. 

A complete list of ingredients for all meal items and a la carte items will be available on the FNS web site in late August. In the past year, at the request of some parents, there has been an 80 percent reduction in the number of additives and preservatives in school meals.

Parents are critical partners in their children’s nutrition and are asked to review the daily menu with their child in support of the new federal standards and FCPS meal offerings.
Note: For more information, contact Penny McConnell at 703-813-4800.