Changes in school breakfast program

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This year, changes to the school have even reached the cafeteria; new regulations from the NYC office of SchoolFood have adjusted the menus for school breakfast, a free meal program open to all students for an hour before the beginning of the day.

Since the start of the 2013-2014 school year, the office of SchoolFood has been instating a policy that allows for only two grain products to be served to any one student at breakfast. In previous years, kids were allowed to select whatever they wanted from an array of cereals, fruit, milk, juice, and hot dishes like french toast and turkey bacon. This new regulation leads to fewer breakfast options, as explained by cafeteria worker Ann-Marie. “Students now can’t take whatever they want- it has to be two cereals, or two pieces of apple loaf,” she elaborated. “This is healthier for everyone.” She added that protein, or sugar-based foods like a mozzarella stick or carton of juice, are still given out in whatever quantity the student wants.

While some students haven’t noticed any difference in the selections, the subtle change has drawn the attention of senior Shirley Lin. “I’ve noticed that they’re stricter this year,” she said. “You can only choose certain foods with certain foods, while last year you could take whatever you like.”

Senior Alessandra Taboada is not a fan of the new policy. She said, “I think that the new program is ridiculous because the portions already given are so small. I’ve never heard of not being able to take cereal and something like a bagel or bread because ‘it’s too many grain points.’”

Junior Shavana Singh also picked up on the difference. “So far they’ve been giving either cereal with a cheese stick or a muffin with cereal. Before they’d pretty much let you take whatever you wanted, but it seems like they’re cutting back,” related Shavana, a regular breakfast-goer since last year.

The change, part of a nutritional reform initiative, is not the first of its kind.  In fact, they have been introducing nutrition reforms to NYC schools since 2004, when skim milk and whole wheat bread began to replace whole milk and the starchier white bread in student cafeterias. These changes adhere to the NYC SchoolFood mission statement: “[SchoolFood] is committed to promoting healthy food choices among our students and maintaining high nutritional standards while offering delicious, healthy, and satisfying menu choices.”

The changes to the breakfast program have mixed reviews so far. While some would like to have the old variety back, others aren’t bothered by the new system.

“I don’t really find that it affects me significantly,” concluded junior Samia Abedin.