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The evolution of school lunches: From sloppy joes to celery sticks

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For many years, when deciding school lunches and breakfasts, a district only had to worry about staying under budget.

In 2012, the USDA made major changes to school meal guidelines.

Public schools now have to follow strict dietary guidelines.

The restrictions include calorie counting, offering a certain amount of fruits, vegetables, and meat, and replacing items with whole grains.

Districts have not only been finding meals that fit those health guidelines, but the budget as well.

Lunch costs $2.30 for elementary students and ten cents more for middle and high school.

The Davis County School district has a budget of $640,637 to feed 1,285 students every day for an entire school year.

Itâ??s also a challenge for the organizations who supply food to public schools.

"Itâ??s been difficult to find products that fit into that 100 percent whole grain guidelines with the changes and how quickly they were made it didn't give the people who produce the product for us time to react to that," said Stephanie Hawkins, Davis County School District Support Services Secretary.

The school gets their food from four different government sources.

"It's a lot of planning. I work really closely with my kitchen managers, talking about ok this is what's available for us, what do you need do we want to have this how many times a month or how many times throughout the year," said Hawkins.

They also spend $15,000 on fruits and vegetables that are grown nearby. The district says their number one goal is to make sure kids like the food they're serving.

Hawkins said, "We go back to the kids, what did you like, is this something that you want to have again."

"I like the options that they give us," said Rylie Johnson, a Davis County School District 8th Grader. "For our entree every day we get the two options of what we'd like to have so I like having the choice."

"It's definitely become a lot healthier so we get some fruit packs and some veggies and that's really nice too," said Hailey Swan, a Davis County School District 8th Grader.

And through all the monetary, health, and taste regulations - the district is still able to provide once in a while treats like chocolate chip cookies.

Even though they're whole grain, they're still homemade.

"We do it because we love kids and definitely want to serve them the most nutritious food that we can and give them options they like," said Hawkins.

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