Oconomowoc School District revises school lunch menu as parents circulate petition

More than 100 signed the petition
Posted at 5:09 PM, Mar 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-06 19:54:19-05

The Oconomowoc Area School District along with the company that provides its food services, Sodexo, have revised a new lunch option that had dozens of parents concerned.

More than 100 people have signed a petition asking the district to change its new "Fun on the Run" menu option that began March 1.

The district said they made changes because of concerns over the amount of sugar intake in the menu. The previous menu included Pop-Tarts and Rice Krispies Treats. Those items have been replaced by whole grain Goldfish crackers and a whole grain soft pretzel.

"It seems like that's been gaining momentum and it's just something that we want people to be aware of," said Deana Binkelman, whose son attends Park Lawn Elementary School in the OASD.

She helped form the petition with two other mothers and says she hopes to see the entire district's menu revamped.

"Truly what I'd like to see is the whole thing dialed back," she said.

The new Fun on the Run menu option sent out Monday to TODAY's TMJ4 includes a yogurt and string cheese in each bag, along with a whole grain serving that varies between a blueberry muffin, Goldfish crackers, a bagel, a chocolate chip muffin, a soft pretzel and Cheezit crackers.

The meal also includes milk and a fruit serving either in a cup, 100 percent fruit juice or an apple.

The bag lunches do not include a vegetable serving. The USDA's guidelines for school lunches say that they must include a vegetable serving, and that only half of the fruit serving can come from 100% juice.

According to a spokesman with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, a salad bar option would serve as the fruit and vegetable serving, which several of the schools in the OASD have during lunch.

However, Binkelman says her son's school doesn't have a salad bar. And if he wanted vegetables, he'd have to specifically request them from the lunch counter.

"Once the kids sit down and start eating and chatting you're not thinking 'Oh, I'd like some more apples,' or 'I'd like some more celery sticks’," she said.

She and two other parents have a meeting scheduled with the district this week to discuss additional changes or revisions to the menu.

A full statement provided by the OASD Director of Food and Nutrition Services is below:

Due to recent concerns about sugar intake, Sodexo worked with the Department of Public Instruction to revise menu options for the Fun on the Run lunch bag. Currently, there are no USDA regulating standards for sugar and carbohydrates in school lunches, but we want to address this specific concern for the parents in our community. All bags contain items that are whole grain, low fat, and meet the USDA standards on calories, fat, and sodium. There are 5 daily options that contain food formulated for school lunches. These items contain good sources of protein, such as yogurt, string cheese and PB&J. We have also included whole grain items, such as graham crackers, whole grain bagels with low-fat cream cheese, muffins & goldfish crackers. Fruit cups are diced pieces of fruit that kids love & juice cups are always 100% juice. Food items in these bags meet USDA standards for a healthier lunch, which is the only regulating authority in school lunches. Our mission is to appeal to all types of eaters, which is why the Fun on the Run lunch bag was implemented. In the first 3 days of implementing this program the number of students participating exceeded our expectations, and the bag was well received by many families. We realize that anything new is exciting for children, but want to remind parents they can email my office if it is their wish to restrict their children from ordering this option.

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