COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo (KRDO) — For the first time in almost a decade, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced nutrition changes for school districts across the country. The goal is to cut back on the amount of sodium and fat in schools. However, District 11 is already ahead of the curve and setting a high standard for healthy kids.

You don’t have to look far to find D11’s most beloved and spirited employee.

“I love the people, the kids, and the students,” says Teon White, kitchen specialist.

For almost a decade, White has worked in the Doherty High School kitchen.

“I love all of the kids, I know them by their name, know them by heart,” says White. “Working here you learn the kids and when they graduate they will never forget you.”

And it’s quite the operation before the lunch bell rings.

“What we do is we have our cold bar here and the kids come through and they get their entrée and then they have their choice of vegetables and fruit,” says Lynn Thomas, kitchen assistant.

Over 20,000 meals are produced at D11 high schools and then distributed to middle and elementary schools every day for breakfast and lunch.

But even with the new changes brought on by the USDA, D11 officials say they aren’t going to have to change much on their menu.

“We created our own guidelines for ourselves years ago to have better food for kids and stuff that is low in sugar and low in carbs and low in sodium,” says Ken Wehri, director of food and nutrition services.

Because feeding hungry kids, healthy food, is what it’s all about.

“And we pitch in as a group and we all get it done and the task is complete, we have the lunches out and the kids are ready and everybody’s happy,” says White.

The USDA previously updated the school nutrition standards in 2012. Below are the changes that will be implemented starting in the fall school year of 2022.

  • Milk:  Schools and child care providers serving participants ages six and older may offer flavored low-fat (1%) milk in addition to nonfat flavored milk and nonfat or low-fat unflavored milk;
  • Whole Grains:  At least 80% of the grains served in school lunch and breakfast each week must be whole grain-rich; and
  • Sodium:  The weekly sodium limit for school lunch and breakfast will remain at the current level in SY 2022-2023. For school lunch only, there will be a 10% decrease in the limit in SY 2023-2024. This aligns with the U.S Food and Drug Administration’s recently released guidance that establishes voluntary sodium reduction targets for processed, packaged, and prepared foods in the U.S.

Additional details about the changes can be read here.