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From the U.S.D.A. Kitchens: 61 Recipes for School Lunch

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Washington--A new recipe "file" published by the Agriculture Department tells school food-service personnel how to prepare everything from soup to nuts.

The new set of instructions, which updates one issued in 1971, contains 161 recipes. They reflect a wide range of regional tastes and address current health concerns about excessive amounts of salt, fat, and sugar in children's diets.

Last year, 90,000 public and private schools served subsidized lunches to 24 million children, the department said. Almost half of the children participating in the program come from families with incomes that qualify them to receive free or reduced-price lunches.

The new file contains labor-saving tips as well as instructions for making foods in batches of 50 or 100 portions. While including recipes for such ever-popular items as lasagna, spaghetti, and oatmeal cookies, the new file also contains instructions for preparing more exotic dishes, including chili con carne with kidney or pinto beans and sweet potato-prune bread squares.

And it offers recipes incorporating nuts and seeds as "meat alternatives."

According to a statement released by the department, the new recipes make "good use of usda-donated commodities to help keep down the cost of4lunches."

Last month, an advocacy group charged that the commodities donated to the school-lunch program are frequently high in fat, sugar, or sodium. The department denied these claims, noting that "scientific evidence does not support setting absolute intake levels" of these substances. (See Education Week, Sept. 28, 1988.)

Although the new file was completed before those charges were made, it addresses health concerns and includes a "Nutrient per Serving" table with all recipes.

The department also notes in its statement that "[t]o the extent practical and acceptable, moderation of added sugar, fat, and salt was addressed in the recipe revision."--ef

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