Nutritional Integrity | Nutritional Concerns | Why Eat School Meals? | Offer vs. Serve | Special Diets/Allergies
Our nutrition standards are based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the USDA MyPLATE.
The nutritional value of meals is evaluated over one week rather than judged on a single meal or food item.
Student meals contain specific, age-appropriate calorie ranges and a variety of options to support growth, development, and a healthy weight for the growing child.
Student preferences and feedback are considered in menu planning. Changes will be gradual to ensure acceptance.
Purchasing practices ensure the use of high quality ingredients to maximize student acceptance.
Foods are prepared in ways that ensure a balance between optimal nutritional quality and student acceptance.
A la carte food offered to students complies with federal guidelines.
Professional development opportunities in nutrition are regularly provided to school nutrition managers and staff.
School Nutrition Services tries to balance our nutritional responsibility to students with the need to offer items they will eat and the requirement that we be self-supporting.
School Nutrition Services believes all foods eaten in moderation in the context of a balanced diet are acceptable. In addition, an emphasis on nutrition education and physical activity will have a positive impact on student health.
What is School Nutrition Services doing to address the current issue of childhood obesity? Childhood obesity is a complex issue which stems from a combination of factors.
To help provide optimal nutrition we:
- Offer meals in appropriate portions so students can see what a healthy meal looks like
- Bake all foods at the elementary level and most in middle and high
- Offer vegetarian entrées
- Offer low-fat (1%) and non-fat (skim) milk
- Offer a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables every day
- Offer at least 50% of our grain products as whole grain rich
Please remember, students only eat a maximum of two meals per day in their school’s cafeteria. That is only 360 of the thousands of meals a child eats annually. While SNS does model healthy choices and appropriate portion sizes, parents and guardians are role models as well. They should provide their children with healthy meals and snacks, less candy and sugar-sweetened beverages, less time in front of the TV or computer and have their child be active for at least 60 minutes each day.
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Nutrition: All meals served by Henrico School Nutrition Services are required by federal and state regulations to meet specific nutritional requirements. The meals that are provided must contain no more than 30% of the calories from fat, 10% from saturated fat, 0% from trans-fat, and must meet requirements for calories, protein, grains, vegetables, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium.
School meals are safer than the lunches brought from home. A major concern with meals brought from home is keeping the temperature in the safe zone. Hot foods need to be kept above 135°F and cold foods below 41°F to prevent possible food-borne illness. This is hard to do with lunches kept in classrooms or lockers. All HCPS meals are made with the strictest of sanitation practices and held safely at correct temperatures.
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Offer vs. Serve is a concept that applies to the way we do menu planning and determines reimbursable school meals. Offer vs. Serve allows students to decline either one or two food items in a school lunch or one food item in a school breakfast. When students are allowed to select the food they want to eat, there is:
- Less food waste
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Increased consumption to provide proper nutrients to maintain a healthy mind and body
School Nutrition Services is required by law to accommodate a disabled child’s special dietary needs. In order to evaluate your
request for School Nutrition Services to modify menu offerings for your child, we will need more information from you.
If your child has a disability, as defined under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the ASA of 1990, federal regulations require us to obtain a physician’s statement that identifies the following:
- Your child’s disability and an explanation of why the disability restricts the child’s diet
- The major life activity affected by the disability
- The food or foods to be omitted from the child’s diet and the food or choice of foods that must be substituted.
Food allergies and intolerances are considered a disability only if a life-threatening (anaphylactic) reaction occurs from ingesting the food item. Special requests for a child who does not have a disability, but does have a special dietary need, must be verified with a statement from a licensed medical authority (physician or nurse practitioner). The statement must include:
- An identification of the medical problem which restricts the child’s diet and
- The food or foods to be omitted from the child’s diet and the food or choice of foods to be substituted
A decision on how to accommodate the special need will be made on a case-by-case basis by the School Nutrition Services Director. Food substitutions may be limited due to availability of items. Menu information may be provided to parents to allow them to make decisions about food choices for their child.
Children with milk allergies and lactose intolerance are accommodated when they submit a ‘Henrico County School Nutrition Services Eating And Feeding Evaluation For Children with Special Needs’ form signed by a physician or nurse practitioner. Fruit juice will be served as a substitute when available or water will be offered.
Please click HERE for the form that must be filled out.
Return the information to Director, School Nutrition Services, 3751A Nine Mile Road, Henrico, Virginia, 23223. A representative from the School Nutrition Services office will be in touch with you.
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The vegetarian diet is gaining in popularity. Henrico County does not offer menus that meet all the different kinds of vegetarianism; however, we offer various vegetarian options in our schools:
- Chef Salad or Taco Salad can be requested without meat
- Toasted Cheese Sandwich
- Cheese Pizza (daily in middle and high schools)
- Veggie Wrap
- Soy Butter and Jelly Sandwich
- Cheese Quesadilla
- Veggie Quesadilla
- Healthy Day Meal (low-fat yogurt, string cheese, baby carrots, and pretzels)
- Macaroni & Cheese
- And many more options including various fresh fruit and vegetables each day
A la carte items are offered as a supplement to lunches purchased at schools or brought from home. The number of different types of a la carte items offered for sale is limited.
A la carte items offered follow federal guidelines for foods of minimal nutritional value as well as recommendations of the Virginia Action for Healthy Kids. Those guidelines include:
- Offer only 100 percent fruit juices
- Offer bottled, non-carbonated water without fortification or sweeteners
- Each snack item offered will contain less than 300 calories
- Each snack item offered will contain no more than 35 percent total calories from fat except for seeds and nuts
- No more than 10 percent of calories per snack item will be from saturated fat
- No snack item will contain more than 35 percent sugar by weight
Food safety and sanitation are critical, ongoing processes that require strict procedures and training. School Nutrition Services requires all School Nutrition Services Managers and Assistant Managers to possess a current ServSafe Sanitation Certification.
Since the 2004 Child Nutrition Reauthorization, Henrico School Nutrition Services has implemented food safety programs based on national HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) principals to identify and eliminate school food safety hazards at every step-from purchasing and receiving, to storing, preparing, holding to actual serving. This HAACP prevention steps takes place in all school cafeterias. School Nutrition Services works closely with the Henrico County Environmental Health Services. We maintain a higher sanitation standard in many cases than State regulations require. Schools rely on the federal government to inspect and certify the safety of our food supply, and we rely on food manufacturers to provide timely and accurate notifications when their products pose a food safety threat.
Click here then click on ‘Restaurant Inspections’ and type in the school name to see inspections.
This year, School Nutrition Services will be joining the following community partners to support our Henrico County Public School
Bon Secours Health Care System: Community partner and co-sponsor of the ‘Healthy Kids Day® and Walk’ along with the Greater Richmond Y. This free community event is created to help bring attention to today’s obesity epidemic and that a healthy lifestyle is not work but can be fun. Children are invited to participate in activities while learning about nutrition education and physical activity. The event concludes with a 1 mile walk or run. Chesterfield, Hanover and Richmond City Schools Districts participate as well to make this a true community event.
Henrico County Child Health Coalition (HCCHC): The Henrico County Child Health Coalition is a collaborative group that focuses on current issues that affect the health and wellbeing of our infants, toddlers, children, and youth. The Coalition identifies system problems in an attempt to elicit change and ultimately improve the health status of all children in Henrico County.
Student Health Advisory Board (SHAB): Serves as a catalyst for systemic changes in the school division for promoting student health which directly impacts educational outcomes. Cooperative partnerships include health instruction, healthy school environment, school health services, school counseling, psychological and social services, prevention services, physical education, school nutrition services, parents, students, and community groups.
Virginia Youth Obesity Prevention (VYOP): A new initiative from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, created to promote good nutrition and physical activity among Virginia youth.
The following nutrition education resources are for parents and students who are interested in finding out more about nutrition. These easy-access links explore the field of nutrition and invites you to increase your own awareness of the impact that nutrition has on the lives of your families.
American Dietetic Association
Eat Smart, Play Hard
5 A Day for Better Health Program
Fruit and Veggies More Matters
School Nutrition Association
U.S. Department of Agriculture