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Report: $40M needed in Utah to serve healthy school lunches

Published: Thursday, May 1 2014 2:13 p.m. MDT

"I know other school districts in Utah were moving in that direction," she said. "The guidelines just kind of pushed everything along."

Britton said the State Office of Education conducts trainings throughout the state to help schools with the transition to the new guidelines. Utah was also recently awarded a $282,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase kitchen equipment.

Britton said the number of schools that are able to receive a portion of the grant will depend on their needs, but she added that the funding will likely go toward the purchase of ovens and heated cabinets.

"We are in the process of making applications available through a competitive grant," Britton said. "Each school district, their needs are a little bit different."

The new guidelines generated some backlash at the time of their adoption, including parents concerned about increased lunch prices, students complaining of insufficient portions and educators worried about increased food waste.

Since the initial rollout, school nutritionists have learned from the feedback and developed menus that appeal to students while also staying within the healthy guidelines, Bastian said.

"We can look outside the box a little bit because we understand them better," she said.

Britton said most of Utah's schools had begun moving toward healthy options before the law was changed, and she commended educators for their work to continue adjusting their menus.

"I think that the schools have adjusted really well, and they’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work with the kids," Britton said.

Email: benwood@deseretnews.com

Twitter: bjaminwood

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