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updated: 6/13/2012 4:44 PM

Stronger health requirements in Lombard lunch contract

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Whole grains, low-fat or fat-free salad dressings, dark leafy greens and more fresh fruits are among requirements of Lombard Elementary District 44's next food service contract that have some parents thinking lunches offered next year will be a bit more nutritious.

School meals also will be a bit pricier beginning in August, with each lunch costing $2.50 instead of $2.35 and each breakfast costing $1.40 instead of $1.30.

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The school board approved a one-year $671,300 contract with Arbor Management of Addison for breakfast and lunch services at the district's seven schools.

Along with a handful of nutritional requirements the district is adding for the 2012-13 school year, the contract reflects a stronger state and federal focus on healthy school lunches, school board President Becky Kirsh said.

Under the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, school meals must offer fruits and vegetables every day, increase the amount of whole grains offered, provide only fat-free or low-fat milk, limit calories based on age and reduce amounts of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium.

It all looks good on paper, and parent Brigitte Baur said she thinks the changes will make next year's school lunches "more appetizing." Baur leads an advisory group of parents that formed in fall 2010 to push for healthier school meals and input into food service contract decisions.

"Next year, we will continue meeting with the district to give feedback to Arbor on what we think could be improved," Baur said about the advisory group.

Arbor Management was the district's previous vendor and began adding more healthy choices to menus in spring 2011 at the advisory group's request. The contract approved Tuesday can be renewed yearly for up to five years.

With the increase in school lunch prices, Baur said parents may be more curious to know nutrition details such as the fact all milk offered by Arbor is hormone-free. Baur's group aims to facilitate such communication between the vendor and parents.

"It is going to make a difference in whether you're buying your kids lunch," Baur said. "With the cost going up, I think people will be watching these accounts more carefully."

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