SHREWSBURY, Mass. — As the Shrewsbury School Lunch program is adapting to more stringent federal and state nutritional requirements, it’s also facing a loss of revenue.
In a report to the school committee Wednesday, food services director Beth Nichols said that, for the first time, Shrewsbury High School’s meal programs are no longer serving the majority of students, who are bringing in more food from home or places such as Dunkin’ Donuts.
“Sales are drastically down,” said Nichols, pointing to a loss of $52,000 in 2011-2012.
New dietary requirements were put in place starting in 2012 that would, in part, reduce fats and calories.
For example, whereas previous requirements required no specific vegetables, new requirements call for weekly requirements of dark green, red/orange, legumes and starch. And, where previously whole grains were encouraged, beginning in 2014-2015, all grains must be whole grain.
Milk must now be fat free or 1 percent, and flavored milks are not allowed.
Students are required to take fruits and vegetables, but Nicols said that a “huge” amount has been wasted.
According to data provided by food services to the school committee, the average high school student spends $3 a day on vending machine items.
However, the dietary restrictions are being extended to vending machines, where sugary drinks, sports drinks, and iced teas, among other items, are no longer allowed.
Superintendent Joseph Sawyer said that it’s difficult for to quantify the government’s one-size fits all calorie restrictions. For example, student athletes may require a larger caloric intake than others. That may be why students are choosing more food from sources other than the lunch program.