ATLANTA - Georgia students can expect to see more fruits and vegetables in their school lunches under new federal guidelines aimed at adding more nutrition to their diets.
Students this year will see more varieties of vegetables, fruits and salads than at any time since federally subsidized lunch programs began in the 1940s, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported ( http://bit.ly/OGoMAp ).
Under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new standards, which became effective July 1, calorie limits are also set for meals.
Schools are now required to serve larger portions of fruits and vegetables, and students must take at least one fruit or vegetable serving per meal. Schools must offer dark green vegetables, orange/red vegetables and legumes at least once a week, eliminate all added trans-fat and serve only 1 percent or nonfat milk.
In Rockdale County, things were going smoothly, but getting students to try sweet potatoes was proving to be quite a challenge, school officials said.
"No matter what we've tried, it hasn't worked," said Peggy Lawrence, nutrition director for Rockdale County public schools.
"We tried mashed," Lawrence said. "We tried baked. We tried fries. We tried fries sprinkled with cinnamon. We tried fries sprinkled with brown sugar."
"Kids just didn't like sweet potatoes, but that doesn't mean we'll stop trying," Lawrence added.
In Gwinnett County northeast of Atlanta, the school system is constantly testing dishes with students, said Ken Yant, director of school nutrition for the school district. They have to win 75 percent student test group approval to make the menu, Yant said.
One dish that was a surprise hit in Gwinnett County schools: a watermelon chiller salad of watermelon, cucumber, orange and mint.