By KARI BLURTON
Hays High School Principal Marty Straub said his students seem to be adjusting to the healthier snacks and smaller portions required by federal law in every school lunchroom this year — but is the first to admit he does miss his nearly daily indulgence from last year.
“I miss the ice cream machine, probably more than anybody in the school, and it’s is probably a good thing they took that away for me,” Straub said.
This is the first year schools across the country are implementing the Smart Snacks program, an initiative from the U.S. Department of Agriculture designed to ensure snacks and desserts are lower in calories and smaller in portion size. Lunchrooms now provide snacks such as whole-grain cookies with reduced sugar and baked chips.
“Overall, the kids seem satisfied,” Straub said. “We really have good food here at Hays High, with lots of options. Probably the thing we miss the most — kids and adults alike — is the ice cream machine (but) those things are a thing of the past … and we need to follow the law.”
Straub added USD 489 food service did a “good job” finding tasty and healthy alternatives falling within federal guidelines such as small ice cream sandwiches and whole-grain crisped rice treats. He said the staff has had few complaints from students.
Have the students noticed a difference?
“In the vending machines, I noticed they took out all the Shockers and that’s like really sad. That’s my favorite candy,” HHS sophomore Sally Laushbough said. “It is very noticeable.”
However, Laushbough said the changes are for the best.
“If it’s healthier and if it’s more nutritious then that is probably really good for us,” she said.
HHS junior Emily Prine also noticed the ice cream machine and candy were gone but said the change is “sort of” a good thing.
“I don’t feel we need as much candy during the day. I feel like we need more substance,” she said.
Jessica Younker, USD 489 director of nutrition services, and her staff spent much of the summer adjusting dessert recipes and finding nutritious snacks.
“Overall, I think the healthier alternatives are going over well for the students. There is always an adjustment to change, but I think the changes are a good thing overall,” she said.
Younker said she knew Straub was “a regular” at the soft-serve ice cream machine last year, noting the machine was eliminated from daily use because portion size could not be controlled.
“It’s in the warehouse, and I have already promised Mr. Straub we can bring it out for special occasions,” she laughed.