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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Will vending machine calorie counts impact local schools?

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  • Elaine Gaeddert, USD 373 director of food service, doesn’t think requiring vending machines to post calorie counts will have much of an impact on local students’ snack choices — but it isn’t because those students don’t care about healthy eating. USD 373 is already ahead of the game, and has limited unhealthy choices in school vending machines. “We lean more towards more of the healthy (snacks), not candy bars and sweets,” Gaeddert said. While in the past, students had access to more traditional vending machine fare such as chips and candy bars, now they have healthier options like granola bars and vitamin water. So far, the change has gone over well, and students don’t seem to miss the junk food too much. “I think they actually enjoy the healthier snacks and drinks,” Gaeddert said. “... I have not heard any negative comments.” The school district also has implemented stricter requirements for school lunches, as well. There are limits on how many calories school lunches can have: 550 to 650 calories for kindergarten through fifth grade; 600 to 700 calories for grades six through eight; and 750 to 850 calories for grades nine through 12. Gaeddert said the tighter regulations on school food came about over a relatively short amount of time, and the school district has scrambled to adapt. The school has had to increase the availability of whole grains and fruits and vegetables. They are required to serve 5 cups of vegetables per week for ninth through 12th graders, as well as one cup of fruit per day. There also are requirements for younger grades. While the healthier menus have resulted in a slight increase in cost, it hasn’t been as high as Gaeddert expected. She also said the healthier meals have gone over well with the students in the district.  
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