PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- K-12 students returning to school this year will find some new and exciting menu changes designed to encourage healthy eating habits and promote a balanced diet. As part of the USDA's revised nutrition standards for the National School Lunch and National School Breakfast Programs, ARAMARK, a leading provider of school food and nutrition services to more than 3,000 K-12 schools across the nation, has launched new Healthy for Life™ recipes and an online parent resource portal to help improve childhood nutrition.
"ARAMARK is committed to creating healthier school environments through nutritious meal offerings and wellness education," said Linda Sceurman, R.D. and Director of Nutrition and Menu Development for ARAMARK Education. "While we have always set high nutrition standards for school meals, we support the USDA's updated meal requirements and will continue to promote healthy eating habits throughout our school communities."
Over the past several years, ARAMARK's team of dietitians and chefs have been developing Healthy for Life™ recipes that reduce added fats, sugar and salt, and feature low and non-fat dairy options; lean protein choices; a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including dark leafy greens, bright orange carrots and peas and beans; assorted whole grain products; and 100 percent fruit juice with no sugar added.
In addition to the menu changes, ARAMARK's Healthy for Life™ wellness and nutrition education program has been expanded to include an online parent resource portal, www.myhealthyforlife.com. The online resource features menu suggestions, recipes, snack ideas and more to encourage students and their families to make healthier food choices and adopt more active lifestyles. It also includes details about the USDA's new regulations and the impact on school meals; information about the National School Lunch and National School Breakfast programs and how families can apply for benefits; and commonly asked parent questions and answers from ARAMARK dietitians.
Designed to ensure students receive a balanced meal consisting of foods from all major food groups, the USDA's new standards focus on obtaining calories and other key nutrients from fruits, vegetables, protein foods, grains and milk with proper serving sizes for a student's age and activity level.
Some of the specific USDA menu changes for this school year include:
Adding more whole grains. Half of the grain items served this year will be whole grain.
Increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables being offered. Students must take at least ½ cup of fruit or vegetable each day.
Offering flavored milk in fat-free or skim varieties while unflavored or white milk will be offered as skim or 1%.
Decreasing the number of desserts offered to allow for an increase in higher nutrient foods.
To help students understand the change in the school's breakfast and lunch programs, signs will be posted on each service line to show students how to select a reimbursable meal (if eligible through the National School Lunch program), as well as to help them recognize how their menu choices fit into the key food groups needed to ensure a balanced diet.
ARAMARK has a responsibility and the expertise to help educate, enable and encourage people of all ages to adopt healthier eating practices and more active lifestyles to help in the fight against obesity and other diseases. We offer healthy food and beverage options to address nutrition and dietary priorities; promote awareness through education and outreach programs; conduct research around food, nutrition and health trends; and partner with leading organizations to positively impact public health.
About ARAMARK Education
ARAMARK Education provides a complete range of food, facility, uniform and other support services to more than 500 K-12 school districts in the U.S. It offers public and private education institutions a family of dining and facility services including: on-site and off-site breakfast and lunch meal programs, after-school snacks, catering, nutrition education, retail design and operations, maintenance, custodial, grounds, energy management, construction management, and building commissioning. For more information on ARAMARK's K-12 food service programs, please visit www.aramarkschools.com.