Feeding Mandan’s Students
There are special people at all our schools who work each day to help improve students’ concentration, enhance classroom participation, increase test scores and keep our students healthy and ready to learn. Amazingly these people do this without even entering the classrooms.
Who are these people? We are the Nutrition Services staff at Mandan Public Schools and proud of our employees who work hard each day to provide our students with nutritious, balanced meals. On a monthly basis our kitchen staff proudly prepares and serves approximately 45,000 lunches and almost 15,000 breakfasts to our students.
Teachers tell us that well-nourished children are more eager to learn and do better in class. When we give our kids healthy food choices they learn healthier habits. Together we can make a difference and help our kids develop healthy habits for life!
The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) sought to increase the availability of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat fluid milk in school meals, and reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat and trans fat to meet the nutritional needs of school children within their calorie requirements. The intent was to provide nutrient-dense meals (high in nutrients and low in calories) that better meet the dietary needs of school children and protect their health. The Act sought to improve lunches and breakfasts by requiring schools to adhere to some strict guidelines. Examples of some of those guidelines are:
- Offer fruits and vegetables as two separate meal component
- Offer fruit daily at breakfast and lunch
- Offer vegetables daily at lunch including specific vegetable subgroups weekly
- Offer whole grains: half of the grains would be whole-grain rich
- Offer meals that meet specific calorie ranges for each age/grade group to ensure proper portion size
- Reduce the sodium content of meals
- Prepare meals using food products that contain zero grams of trans fat
- Require students to select a fruit or vegetable as part of the reimbursable meal
- Require menus to adhere to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Food on school menus must contain 30% calories from fat, less than 10% of calories from saturated fat, at least 1/3 of the RDA for key nutrients like calories, protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A and C.
We understand that not every child has the same preference for food and we do have options in place to accommodate that. In elementary school, children are allowed to have a choice between different kinds of fresh fruit, canned fruit, fresh vegetables and hot vegetables each day. They have their choice of a hot entrée or a deli sandwich. Each of these choices meets the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutritional standards we must follow.
We are required to offer five food groups at each meal. If they prefer, students only have to choose any of three of the five food group items. One requirement is that they must choose a fruit or a vegetable.
We do our best to ensure that each student receives the meal of their choice. If for any reason, a child is not able to have their preferred choice, they are offered an alternative meal choice. If one food group item is no longer available, (including their choice of the main entrée, another main entrée will be offered) the child is offered an alternative item. In all cases, children will be offered the appropriate items to fulfill the nutritional requirements.
Good nutrition is key to the optimal growth and development of children. Our nutrition staff strives each day to provide your children with tasty, healthy meals and because of this, we do not allow any outside food from other “restaurants” to be brought into our school cafeterias. We thank you for your continued participation in this matter.
Mandan is full of amazing children and families. We are honored to help them learn and grow. We will continue to do our best to provide them with the nutrition they need to grow up to be the best people they can be.
To find more information about required nutritional standards and Mandan’s Nutrition Services Department, visit the Mandan Public School District website at www.mandan.k12.nd.us. Click Departments and Child Nutrition. If you have any questions, please contact Becky Heinert, Director of Nutrition Services, at 701-751-6500.