A school lunch offering tacos isn't much of a surprise but a lunch featuring whole wheat tortillas, brown rice, fresh cut tomatoes and low fat beef might be. In Hannibal, they take pride in actually cooking lunch right at the school every day.
"We even make our own homemade lasagna, which would be more convenient if you buy it and re-heat it in the oven but our belief is that we want as little preservatives in the children as possible so we try to make as much from scratch as we can, said Debbie Richardson as she helped prepare and serve lunch today in Hannibal Central School.
A new study out says more schools should probably be cooking like Hannibal. The Institute of Medicine says school lunches need more fruits, vegetables and whole grains instead of high fat, high calorie foods.
It TMs easy to ask schools to provide better lunches but the tough part for many schools is finding money to do it. While food costs have gone up, reimbursements for lunch programs haven't.
"We haven't had an increase in our state reimbursement in over 20 years and last year, we were part of the percentages that got deducted, said Richardson. We were deducted 8% from the reimbursement that hasn't gone up in 20 years."
Today's study and several others all recommend raising school lunch reimbursement rates to help schools offer better food and the kitchen equipment to cook it. In Hannibal, they use giant mixers to make their own pizza sauce, soup and stews.
Today wasn't just taco day for the kids in Hannibal. There were salads with sunflower seeds and dried cranberries and yogurt smoothies. For dessert, students had a choice of an apple or a frozen juice bar.
The Federal Government is set to review school lunch standards in the upcoming months and is considering revising current standards.