Child nutrition act means lots of changes for school lunches

By: Amelia Cerling Email
By: Amelia Cerling Email

One out of every three kids in America are considered overweight or obese.

That statistic is what lies behind President Obama's new healthy, hunger free kids act of 2010.

The child reauthorization bill means healthier choices being added to school lunches and further restrictions on ala carte items, and even the items kids sell during fundraisers.

At first glance this school lunch at Altoona’s Pederson Elementary may not look like it fits the bill of "healthy".

A banana and corn yes, but a cheeseburger and a cookie?

“Our hamburgers are made with soy and with applesauce they take the fat out and then add in some applesauce to make them moist again,” food service supervisor Peggy Ehrhard says.

And Ehrhard adds the cookie is made with whole grain and less fat.

But, she says combinations like corn and mashed potatoes will have to go under Obama's new food act.

“For food service it will mean we will have more fruits and vegetables, more leafy greens more yellow vegetables, less starchy vegetables,” Ehrhard explains.

To put it simply it's more healthy choices, but what do kids say are their current favorites at lunch?

“I like pizza,” third grader Hayley Titel says.

“I think my favorite thing is popcorn chicken and nachos,” fellow third grader Mercadeze Zimmerman says.

The transition to healthier food has also already begun in Eau Claire schools, but Sue Brown who heads up the food and nutrition program says more nutritious foods also cost a lot more.

“We've been noticing when you look at a regular food item, say pizza and compare it to one made with whole grain, it's usually 4 to 6 cents more expensive,” Brown says.

Price is looking to be one of the most important factors in all of this. The new bill is giving schools 6 additional cents per meal, however most schools say that won't cover the cost increase of buying healthier foods.

The new bill will also increase the number of students who can be eligible for free and reduced price lunches so they can get access to healthy food.

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