New Guidelines for School Cafeteria Food

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August 22, 2005
There are new federal guidelines for school meals going into effect this year nationwide. But Columbia County schools have been following most of these guidelines for years. News 12 is on your side with why Columbia County is making sure schools have not only nutritious meals, but safe ones.

New federal guidelines to make sure cafeteria food is safe, but Columbia County Director of School Nutrition Dr. Jane Wiggins says they are used to them.

“We’ve always taken temperature of the foods on the lines, three times to make sure they are the right temperature,” Wiggins said.

Recording temperatures is a daily task for Greenbrier Middle cafeteria manager Sweetie Hudson and her staff. She’s a part of 75 percent of the school’s food service workers who are Serv-Safe certified, which requires passing an exam given by the National Restaurant Association.

“The chicken have to be internal 165 and we have to hold it there for two hours,” Hudson said.

And while it’s safe, it’s also healthy. A menu is created through a national analysis program. The oven-fried chicken is lightly floured and baked.

“Our lines are self-served so they have a choice to pick whatever they want,” Hudson said.

“Over a week they average out so that they do not get more than 30 percent of the calories from fat, not more than 10 percent for saturated fat, that they meet the requirements for Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron and calcium,” Wiggins said.

The peanut butter and jelly sandwich’s high fiber pieces of bread gives students the same amount of calcium as a side of milk.

Columbia County does not have vending or soda machines available during lunch.

“We’ve never had the vending machines in the elementary school and in the middle and high schools they are not open during the school day,” Wiggins said.

And while the school is working hard to keep food safe, they need parents to help continue healthy eating at home.

“If you have good nutritious foods at home available for the children they will eat them,” Wiggins said.

It is rare that Columbia County school cafeterias score below 100 percent on sanitation with the health department.

Click here for more on HACCP Guidelines.