New school lunch guidelines leave some scratching their heads

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PITTSBURGH —

There are new rules this year about what schools can feed your child. 

Channel 11 News has been following the changes in the National School Lunch Act for several years, and new this year: all bread has to be whole grain and schools need to cut down on sodium

 Also, there are new controversial rules for snacks. 

Channel 11's Katherine Amenta went to one local district to see how they are adapting to the changes.

Lunchtime at Avonworth School District is a chance for students to recharge for the afternoon, and if they're buying lunch, their meals have to stay within the new federal guidelines.

“We try to get them ready for what the changes are…so they just don’t think we're mean lunch ladies,” said new Food Service Director, Melissa Schad. 

Schad’s job is to balance the five food group requirements and it isn't always easy.

“Protein, grain, fruit, vegetable and milk,” said Schad. “But, then there are different requirements within the vegetable. There are subgroup categories.”

Here's just one meal that Melissa developed for this year's new guidelines -- whole grain pizza, a banana, broccoli and skim milk.  And to prevent waste, there are options. Your student doesn't necessarily have to eat everything on their plate. There are combinations that allow students to meet the requirements, but also please their tastes.

But Schad tells Channel 11, the law isn't perfect.  Part of this year's new "Smart Snacks" requirement is leaving a lot of people scratching their heads.  Here’s one example.  Under the law, depending on the size, a bottle of milk could be banned.  But, a canned energy drink would be allowed.

Avonworth doesn’t sell energy drinks, but the law does permit it.  Schad thinks the government will have to go back to the drawing board for their snack guidelines.

Private schools that depend solely on tuition and donations, do not have to follow the new rules.  But any school that participates in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program, and receives federal dollars for the meals, has to obey these guidelines.