By Chris McGuinness
Killeen Daily Herald

Students in the Killeen Independent School District will continue to see healthier options in their cafeterias, as the district’s department of nutrition gears up for the 2012-13 school year.

“We had a good year, and a lot of good accomplishments,” said Steve Murphy, the district’s director of school nutrition. “We are looking at continuing to serve our students next year.”

Murphy’s department is tasked with feeding the district’s 40,000-plus students, and making sure meals and snacks comply with state and federal nutrition laws.

The department, which employs about 500 people and operates within a $20.5 million budget this school year, is set to make some changes to help it comply with new federal nutrition regulations, Murphy recently told school board members.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 authorized $4.5 billion for federal school meal and child nutrition programs, as well as increased access to healthy food for low-income children during the next 10 years.

“We are going to be incorporating the USDA’s new meal pattern to include a number of healthy meals for students,” Murphy said.

Those changes will include more whole-grain products such as bread, rolls and hotdog and hamburger buns. In addition, Murphy said schools will offer more fruits and leafy green vegetables to students.

“We will also be offering low fat and 1 percent milk,” he said.

Murphy said the district will continue to ensure every student gets a good meal by giving parents whose children qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch the ability to fill out paperwork online.

“It’s been very effective,” said Murphy.

Healthy lifestyle

The department also will educate others about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition.

Murphy said the department will participate in the district’s annual Family Fitness and Wellness Fair on April 28.