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Changing student lunches, one tray at a time

At local schools, healthier fare gets high grades

At Manchester Essex Regional Middle High School (above, below center), cafeteria fare includes healthy food made from scratch. Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (below left, right) serves as many as 700 meals a day, up from about 300 last year. At Manchester Essex Regional Middle High School (above, below center), cafeteria fare includes healthy food made from scratch. Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (below left, right) serves as many as 700 meals a day, up from about 300 last year. (photos by wendy maeda/globe staff (above and below center); suzanne kreiter/globe staff (below left and right))
By Michael Prager
Globe Correspondent / November 2, 2011

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The move toward scratch cooking accelerated last year when nutrition director Sheila Parisien saw the direction federal guidelines were headed. Proposed school lunch rules, published in January, include more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, reduced sodium, and low-fat and fat-free milk only. Regulations are expected to take effect next year. You can have all the rules you want, but if the cafeteria’s customers won’t eat, rules won’t improve nutrition. Are Manchester Essex kids buying in? Yes and no. Sales - about 800 meals a day for the 1,500 students - are steady, at least at the Middle High School, but Donna Silva, one of four full-time food service workers, says students “aren’t crazy about the changes. The younger generation coming in doesn’t know the difference, but the kids who had the other food know the difference, and they want to know where it went.’’

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