State education and nutrition officials say portion sizes at most districts haven’t changed. Students in Wichita, Kan., for instance, can get more food at lunch this year because there’s a wider array of options, a la carte items and nearly unlimited servings of fruits and vegetables.
Pockets of protest seem to be coming from districts that once ignored calorie maximums, said Cheryl Johnson, director of child nutrition and wellness for the Kansas Department of Education.
Until this fall, districts that opted to spend more could supplement standard school lunches, serving larger portion sizes and offering extra servings of entrees, breads and other high-calorie items.
“Some schools were providing excess food, above the requirements and the nutrition guidelines,” Johnson said. “That’s the reason we’re seeing some comments and protests.
“For the most part, we feel the new guidelines and menus are being well-received.”
The new guidelines – the first major overhaul of school meals in 15 years – also require cafeterias to serve less fat and sodium and more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Linda O’Connor, an English teacher at Wallace County High School, penned the “We Are Hungry” parody after a colleague, Brenda Kirkham, posted a photo of her school lunch on Facebook and sparked dozens of outraged comments.
The lunch included one cheese-stuffed bread stick, a small dollop of marinara sauce, three apple slices and some raw spinach. Kirkham supplemented the lunch with items from a salad bar, including cubes of ham, bacon bits and dressing, which were available only to teachers.
“I asked why the sauce had no meat and I was informed that due to the breadsticks containing cheese, the meat would put us over the guidelines for protein,” Kirkham wrote.