- Associated Press - Sunday, January 4, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Lunches at North Dakota schools are becoming less salty as districts find ways to cut down sodium levels in foods to meet federal nutrition standards.

The 2014-15 school year marks the first sodium target for schools at 1,230 milligrams per lunch for elementary students and 1,420 milligrams for high school students. Those limits will become progressively stricter over the next eight years, The Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/1x7AjyS ) reported.

Meeting those targets is a challenge because salt is in nearly everything, said Doug Joersz the child nutrition coordinator for Bismarck Public Schools. The district removed frozen soups as lunch options because of their high levels of sodium, but recently added a homemade chicken tortilla soup that comes in just under 500 milligrams of sodium.

“It’s really good,” said Jaksen Perrin, a high school junior.

But his friend Nick Fruhwirth, also a junior, said he prefers the old frozen version - it tasted better. The new foods lower in sodium are less flavorful, he said.

In 2010, Congress passed a law that gave the U.S. Department of Agriculture the authority to set new nutrition standards. Schools that seek federal reimbursement for student meals must comply with the new rules. The state is encouraging schools to make more items from scratch, instead of using processed or pre-packaged foods.

Schools across the state also are adding more fruits and vegetables to student lunches. High school students must take at least one cup of each with every lunch whereas before, they could take a smaller quantity of either a fruit or vegetable.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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