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Mixed Reviews About New School Lunches

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MANKATO, Minn. -

As students took a bite out of the new school year, their lunch trays looked a little different than before.

The new federal guidelines aim to provide healthier school lunches and curb the nation's childhood obesity epidemic.  Among the changes, more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Mankato School District Food Service Director Ron Shirmers says, "As opposed to more higher grains and protein that they are used to in the past. There is also a calorie limit on the menu we can serve."

It's 550 to 650 for kindergarten through fifth graders, 600 to 700 for middle schoolers, and 750 to 850 for high schoolers. For students, the new menu gets mixed reviews.

Mankato West Senior Alex Knutson says, "I'm still hungry, I don't know about other people but I'm still hungry after I eat."

Shirmers says building a menu that kids will eat, that fall within the calorie counts, and meet all the USDA guidelines is tough

Shirmers says, "You take a 265 linebacker and you basically give them a 2 oz hamburger which is the max that we can do."

There are plenty of healthy sides, but those foods aren't necessarily ending up in students' stomachs.

Shirmers says, "Not many take more fruits and vegetables and stuff, but they will take more chicken and pizza and stuff."

Shirmers says High school students can buy extra entrées, and there is plenty of fruits and vegetables for them, so there is no reason for them to go hungry.

Shirmers says, "There is plenty of it out there for them, it's just a matter of they need to select it."

The changes will take some getting used to, but the district hopes it will teach students a better way of eating.

Shirmers says, "We're trying to work within the guidelines and it is a challenge for all of us, but we'll get through it and people will understand that this is maybe the new way of eating."

The school district says they think the USDA will make some adjustments to the new guidelines down the road as they learn what is working and what isn't.