Part of the din in the cafeteria at the Altoona Area Junior High School could be students excited that one of their favorite foods is on the menu.
NInth-grader Cameron Gehret explains, "probably my favorite would be the mashed potato bowl if I had to pick."
The mashed potato bowl? It's made up of popcorn chicken, cheese, corn, gravy and mashed potatoes.
Where are the whole grains, the healthy fruits and vegetables?
Don Redshaw, the cafeteria manager, is with Metz Culinary Management which operates AASD food service. About the mashed potato bowl he says, "it is one of our heavier entrees, however it still fits within the guidelines."
Under the new rules, it's only served two times every six weeks, instead of four. Calories and fat will be reduced the rest of the week to account for it.
Students could choose the other entree---turkey, ham, and cheese on a whole wheat croissant, a salad, or plenty of other healthier items.
Redshaw says Metz, which also operates the cafeterias at schools including Bishop Guilfoyle, Bishop McCort, Juniata Valley, Mount Union and Spring Cove doubled the puchase of fruits and vegetables to meet the guidelines.
Kids must take a fruit or vegetable in order to get the best meal price. Do they eat it?
"Yes and no," says Katie Dorian, a nutrition educator with Metz. "We do see some waste. Some of it does end up in the trashcan unfortunately, but they're exposed to it, even if they take a couple of bites and they try a new fruit or vegetable, I'm happy."
One student says, "I eat the fruit most of the time I buy it, and the veggies."
At least half of the grains, must be whole grain under the guidelines.
Student reaction? "I miss regular white bread, " says Maryssa Brandt.
Gehret adds, "I don't like the whole wheat pizza,but it's okay with me, I'm not a pizza kind of guy." But he admits, he did buy pizza at school before it had a whole grain crust. He thinks the new crust tastes funky.
Some kids like the variety of foods offered, but don't always take advantage. Kevin Smith says, "I eat the chicken and pretzels every day and I get a bag of chips and I get ice cream."
"I usually get a chicken patty and a buffalo chicken wrap that's usually what I get every day and milk and grape juice, " Gehret says.
With the calorie limits, are they getting enough to eat? Dorian says high school kids can take a serving of carrot sticks, a hot vegetable, a banana, and a cup of canned fruit, before they get their entree.
"If they take what they're offered," she says, "most of them are getting enough to eat. It's just a matter of not exactly what they want everyday."
Redshaw says the U.S.D.A adjusted the guidelines to give students slightly more grains and meat, but he doesn't expect any major changes.