New lunch rules cause some changes to Thanksgiving meals

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act meant changes like more whole grains in school lunches. Some schools said they had to adjust their traditional Thanksgiving meals for students to meet the regulations. (File photo)

During a York City School Board cafeteria committee meeting Monday night, board member James Morgan asked the all-important question: when’s the Thanksgiving meal for students?

Chris Talley, from Aramark, answered that the meal was removed from the schedule because of the new federal school lunch regulations aimed at making school lunches healthier. But there was feedback that the community wanted something, so they’re planning a holiday meal, adjusted to meet the regulations, in December instead.

It made me wonder how other districts are handling that, so I asked around. Here’s what some other districts said about how the new lunch rules affected their Thanksgiving plans:

Red Lion: “We are continuing with our Thanksgiving tradition. (The turkey, filling and corn continue),” Tammy Stough, Red Lion’s food service director, said in an email. But the district did have to make some tweaks, she said, like offering a tossed romaine salad, and serving fresh fruit instead of ice cream.

South Eastern: Karen Graham, food service director for South Eastern School District, said portion sizes for the meal — served Tuesday — were a bit smaller, since the regulations affected the carbohydrate and protein allowances.

The topping on the fruit crisp met part of the students’ grain allowance, and the stuffing met part, she said, so they had to be careful.  But they’ve always offered extra veggies with the meal, so that worked out well.

“Our stuffing is made with whole grain bread this year,” she said. “I’m not sure the kids will even realize that.”

It’s a change, she said, but it’s not the “end of the world.”

Northeastern: Kim Alessandroni, director of child nutrition services for Northeastern School District, said the district is offering a holiday meal, but adapted it a bit to meet the standards. But she said that as schools apply for an additional six-cents-per-lunch reimbursement they can receive for being in compliance with the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act (they’ll have to submit food labels, recipes and menus online), things might look different.

“As schools become certified, I believe that schools will be forced to eliminate the ‘traditional’ holiday meal and become more creative,” she said in an email.

Dallastown: James Dierolf, director of dining services in Dallastown Area School District, said the schools are serving the same menu as last year, though some portion sizes will be adjusted to meet the school lunch rules.

About Angie Mason

I'm the education reporter at the York Daily Record/Sunday News. I want to know what's happening inside York County classrooms. Email me at or follow me on Twitter: @angiemason1
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