The new school year kicked off across much of KOTA Territory Monday. With it came new classes, new schools, and new lunch guidelines.
Gone are the days of nothing but pizza for lunch.
"There's more to choose from, and it's not all greasy and fat," said an 8th grader at East Middle School in Rapid City.
"We don't have to have junk food all the time like last year," added another student eating lunch.
And, in fact, they can't.
New regulations put in place earlier this year require students to leave the lunch line with at least one fruit or vegetable on their trays.
"We've always had lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. We've been doing a lot of that," said Rapid City schools food service superintendent Janelle Peterson.
Now, though, they could lose out on federal reimbursement without the produce on each kid's plate.
"Anything works. We can do canned, we can do fresh," said Peterson, adding dried produce and some juices qualify, too. "And that's typically what we like to do, is have a variety out there every day for the kids."
It's variety the kids are already seeing and, surprisingly, already liking.
"It's better because you get more food options," said another 8th grader, "and they're healthier options, so you'll choose the healthier options."
But there's a big difference between picking up a bowl of salad and actually eating it.
Most of the food we saw being thrown away were the fruits and vegetables.
Peterson said the point isn't necessarily to get kids to eat better in school, but to encourage them to make healthier choices overall.
"It's amazing to see the amounts of fruits and vegetables that kids are eating and are willing to eat," she said.
"I'll find better choices for food," said a fourth student at EMS.
The guidelines also include the first-ever national limits to calorie and sodium content allowed in school lunches.