Phone: (770) 787-1330 Fax: (770) 784-2950 Email:


MEDIA CONTACT: Donna Vella, School Nutrition Coordinator, or 678-342-5963.

October 31, 2013 – Covington, GA – As of October 4, 2013, The Newton County School System (NCSS) School Nutrition Program (SNP) is certified to receive a 6-cent reimbursement that will apply retroactively to each meal served since May 1, 2013, and to all future meals served, in the School Lunch Program. The Georgia Department of Education School Nutrition Program (GaDOE SNP) certifies that the Newton County School Nutrition Program met all qualifications of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) meal pattern for breakfast and lunch. In recognition of the great effort required for receiving this award, GaDOE SNP will present Newton County with a plaque to commemorate its 6-cents certification status.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), signed by President Obama in 2010 required the implementation of changes in the meal pattern for school lunches and breakfasts served in cafeterias throughout the US. As an incentive to implement these changes early, HHFKA also requires that an additional 6 cents be reimbursed to school districts which certify that each meal served meets the requirements of the new meal pattern.

In order to receive the 6-cents certification and comply with the new regulations, school districts, including the Newton County School Nutrition Program, made a number of changes to school breakfast and lunch meal patterns. These changes were implemented to align school meals with current science-based recommendations for healthy eating, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs). School meals provide an appropriate number of calories for students based on their age group, with breakfast providing one-fourth, and lunch providing one-third, of their daily needs. In addition, only fat-free (flavored or unflavored) or 1% (unflavored) milk options are offered to students. These choices provide the same nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, and protein, with less fat, saturated fat, and calories than whole or 2% milk.

Due to the healthfulness of these foods, increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables is one of the key nutrition strategies outlined in the DGAs. Fruits and vegetables are generally rich in nutrients such as fiber, folate, vitamin C, and potassium. These nutrients are lacking in the diets of many Americans. Vegetables are categorized into sub-groups based on color and type, which often reflects their nutrient content – red/orange, dark green, beans/peas, starchy, and other vegetables.  In accordance with this dietary strategy, the new meal pattern ensures that students are offered more servings, and a greater variety, of vegetables at lunch. In Newton County Schools, students are offered choices within the vegetable sub-groups including pinto and lima beans, black eyed peas, turnip greens, romaine lettuce salads, steamed broccoli, criss cut sweet potatoes, and oven baked sweet potato tots.

In the new meal pattern, more than half of the grains offered at breakfast and lunch are whole grain rich. In Newton County Schools, this includes sandwich bread, hotdog and hamburger buns, hoagie rolls, tortillas, rice, and breakfast favorites such as cinnamon rolls and pancakes. Whole grains provide nutrients such as fiber, B vitamins, and minerals that are removed in the processing of refined grain items.

Although the USDA timeline for changes identified in the new meal pattern is phased in over several years, school districts were given the option to implement changes prior to the deadline. In order to qualify for the 6-cents certification, school districts must be in compliance with the new pattern for both lunch and breakfast, if breakfast is served. Newton County SNP is one of more than 115 school districts in Georgia that are certified, indicating that GaDOE SNP is on target with modifications set by the HHFKA and the USDA to provide healthy meals to students served in school meal programs.

“This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.”

Press Release adapted from the Georgia Department of Education School Nutrition Program’s “Press Release Template for 6-Cents Reimbursement for School Meals.

For more information or references, please contact Brittany Bingeman, SNP Wellness Coordinator, Newton County School System at or 770-784-4966.