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Aug 6, 2012 7:24 PM

Marana Schools serve healthier lunches

MARANA - As Tucson area schools welcome students back to the classroom, they are also introducing them to a revamped, healthier lunch menu.

Marana Unified School District is just one of the schools that are implementing new regulations for its school lunches as mandated by the USDA.

"This is a change for us and a change for our students and I think it's a good one," said David Caldwell, the food service director for MUSD.

The school is making a push for more portions of healthier foods.

"One of the biggest changes is that all students need to take a half cup of fruit or vegetables," Caldwell added. "In the past they may have not had to."

Almost 31 percent of MUSD students were free and reduced a year and a half ago. The start of this school year brings about 40 percent free and reduced students. Caldwell attributes the increase to the economic recession.

MUSD dietitian Caitlyn Crosby says the new food regulations will benefit all students.

"It's so important because all the studies show that the better their tummies are, fuller with healthier foods fruits and vegetables, whole grains, the better they're going to learn," Crosby said.

The new requirements for MUSD meals include:

-Strict limits on saturated fat and portion size
-Age-appropriate calorie limits
-Larger servings of vegetables and fruits (at least one serving per student required)
-Wider variety of vegetables
-Fat-free or 1% mil
-More whole grains
-Sodium restrictions

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