Wisconsin News

What your kids eat at school -- or not

HOLMEN, Wis. - Two weeks into the school year, students say new, healthier changes to their lunches are good in theory.

But in practice, it's leading to some students not getting enough to eat, and some getting more than they want.

Several Holmen High School students said they appreciate this year's variety and healthier options, but the the one-size-fits all requirements for filling their trays just doesn't work for everyone.

Holmen High senior Brady Welvaert is a hungry guy. That's because he plays soccer, hockey and lacrosse.

He said this year's new federal regulations on school lunches mean a full tray doesn't always lead to a full stomach.

"I'm tired. I don't get the same amount of energy that I need because I need to get more calories than normal. And I don't get them with school lunch at all," he said.


The calorie content on high school lunches across the country is now limited to between 750 and 850 calories.

But for student athletes, that calorie count might not keep up with their active lifestyles.

"Last year, I used to get double every day because it wasn't enough then. And now they've really cut it down. And I just said, 'Enough.' So I've been bringing my own lunch every day. You know, taking 10 extra minutes in the morning to get everything ready," said Welvaert.

But Holmen High School Nutrition Services Supervisor Mike Gasper said the one-size-fits-all approach is more flexible than it sounds.

"In addition to the five components that a child can take, between the milk, the main entree, the bread, the fruit and vegetable, we also allow them to take an extra fruit and vegetable for a total of seven items on the tray. So there really isn't a reason for any child to go hungry," said Gasper.

Also new this year, students are required to take a fruit or a vegetable.

That can lead to perfectly good produce going in the trash.

Holmen High sophomore Indiana Hauser said, half the time, her fruits and veggies end up in the garbage.

"Sometimes I'll take it and then I'll get full from other stuff and it ends up being thrown out, or we have to take it and I don't want it, so I throw it out," said Indiana. "It seems really wasteful, you know? And I feel bad about it when I throw it out."

Gasper said he hopes students just need a little time to adapt to the healthier changes.

"The bottom line with what we're doing here is really what's good for kids, to help them to live a long and healthy life and to hopefully teach them some good living skills," said Gasper.

More Holmen High School students are bringing lunches to school instead this year. The number of students buying lunch in the cafeteria is down 7 percent to 8 percent.

School lunches that fit the federal requirements are subsidized by the government and cost less than $2.50.

Students also have the option of purchasing extra items like cookies and chips a la carte.

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