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Photos: New face of Anchorage school lunches

Workers preparing school lunches at the Anchorage School District's central kitchen. ASD prepares 17,000-18,000 meals each school day. October 3, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Workers preparing lasagna for school lunches at the Anchorage School District's central kitchen. ASD prepares 17,000-18,000 meals each school day. October 3, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The Anchorage School District's recipe for spaghetti sauce calls for 1283 lbs of tomatos. October 3, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The Anchorage School District's central kitchen has row after row of dry goods storage, necessary to feed over 17,000 meals daily. October 3, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Workers prepare school lunches of popcorn chicken and corn at the Anchorage School District's central kitchen. October 3, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Workers package a school lunch of popcorn chicken and corn at the Anchorage School District's central kitchen. October 3, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
A worker moves packaged school lunches to a freezer where they will be frozen until distribution the next day. October 3, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Drivers load trucks with meals ready to be delivered to schools on October 3, 2012. The Anchorage School District serves 17,000 to 18,000 meals each school day.
Loren Holmes photo
Taku Elementary cafeteria manager Nancy Arnold prepares to serve 300 lunches to students on October 3, 2012. In front of her are locally grown carrots, and grapes.
Loren Holmes photo
Taku Elementary cafeteria manager Nancy Arnold makes hot lunches for students. She prepares 300 meals a day for the students. October 3, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Taku Elementary cafeteria manager Nancy Arnold scans pre-paid cards that allow students to pay for lunches. The computer keeps track of which students pay the full price, which receive discounted meals, and which receive free meals, and families can top-up the cards online. October 3, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Uneaten containers of carrots and grapes pile up on Taku Elementary school's "share table." Students are required to take a certain amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, but aren't required to eat them. October 3, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Loren Holmes

Starting this year, schools across the country are implementing the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Most of the guidelines were finalized in January, so this fall is the first semester that schools receiving federal funding start serving different lunches.

Here's how the regulations break down:

  • Calorie limits based on grade level.
  • Eliminating trans fat and reducing saturated fat to 10 percent of total calories.
  • Incorporating more whole grains. By 2014-15, all grains must be whole grain.
  • Eliminating 2 percent and whole milk in favor of skim (flavored and unflavored) and 1 percent (only unflavored).
  • Gradual reduction of sodium over a 10-year period.
  • Serving fruit at every meal.
  • Specific amounts vegetables to be served each week, including one serving of beans or legumes.

Previously, fruit and vegetables were “lumped together,” Dean said, meaning you could serve two servings of fruit and meet the requirement. Now the guidelines are much more specific, and require certain portions of specific types of food.

For example, dark green vegetables (kale, broccoli, arugula, spinach) are a different serving than red-orange vegetables (carrots, tomatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes) or even “other” vegetables (brussel sprouts, cauliflower). The district tries to include as many local options as possible, including carrots from Vanderweele Farms in Palmer and tortillas from Anchorage's Taco Loco.

READ MORE: Alaska schools overhaul menus, focus on healthier portions