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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  • by Barbara Location: Eau Claire on Dec 21, 2010 at 05:24 AM
    To Section 8 is not great: STOP VOLUNTEERING AT THE FOOD PANTRY! I am never going to believe that ALL the people who come in wear the latest designer jeans and ALL the people are sporting nice Blackberries -- and you know what -- if they are SO WHAT! You are a volunteer -- You need to respect the people who come through those doors -- if you can't do that -- go somewhere else where you can complain to someone who cares -- gossips aren't needed in these times -- good hearted volunteers who care are!
  • by Mel Location: cadott on Dec 20, 2010 at 11:07 AM
    What is Uncle Sam going to dictate about our lives next? Is he going to have rules on how we dress next? I thought the parent was the most important teacher in our kids' lives, NOT Obama Man!
  • by Section 8 is not great Location: Eau Claire on Dec 18, 2010 at 08:15 PM
    jacky - You are so right. I volunteer at a food pantry, and it disgusts me to see some of the people that come in and get free food. Their kids are wearing the latest designer jeans and Nike shoes. They are wearing fancy Columbia jackets, and all are sporting nice Blackberries. And they drive better vehicles than me. Now, there certainly are some people that truly are in need, and the food pantry is there to help. But, I see firsthand that there are a LOT more people that use and abuse the food pantry, and use and abuse other people's generosity. They "can't afford" healthcare, housing, child care, food, but they CAN afford fancy cell phones, clothes, Xboxes, cable TV, nice vehicles. It's not that the essentials cost too much, it's that they aren't willing to prioritize expenses and take responsibility. And, oh my, actually give up a little something, like shop at KMart not GAP. They think they are entitled to the things that someone else has earned, through hard work and sacrifice.
  • by Jaz on Dec 17, 2010 at 05:54 AM
    resident on Dec 15, 2010 at 12:54 PM - I agree with your comments 100%. That being said, our kids are not getting fat from the ONE meal they get in school every day. That is just not the case. I don't care who you are, or what condition you have to deal with. When I was in school, we had a morning milk break and lunch. That was it. No snacks, no fast food. Just good ol' taters and gravy, pizza, tomato soup and grilled chees sandwiches, ravioli, spaghetti, etc. Sound familiar anyone? Same as the kids are eating today. When did this obesity become an issue. I have been out of school for about 25 years, was obesity and issue then? Was it the school lunches making me fat then? Nope. I agree with serving fruits and veggies and homemade meals. Not the soy and tofu and blah, blah, blah. As you know, they just add cost, which, as you know, the government has no problem spending $$ it doesnt have. When the kids don't get thin from this change, the taxes will not go down.
  • by Bill Location: Eau claire on Dec 16, 2010 at 03:44 PM
    MyO, I'm not opposed to healthier meals for kids, that's not what concerns me and I do believe that healthier meals can and should be served. What concerns me is the fact that government is now getting involved in an issue that parents are ultimately responsible for! There is 1 and sometimes 2 meals served at schools, (depending upon whether or not a school has a breakfast program) and that one meal served at school should not dictate our kids getting fat, that ultimately starts at home!! More of our kids are eating poorly and excercising less not because of what's being served at school, but because of what the parents are serving at home and not kicking there kids outside and making them get the right exercise they need! Even an hour outside of just playing around in the snow or tossing a ball or playing tag, building a fort, or any activity like that would help in fighting this problem! Again, we didn't have thus problem 10-15 years ago, and a lot of it has to do with parents putting there kids in front of the game counsels, computers, or tv! I'm 33 and I can remember always being booted outside on a nice day or during a small snow storm or right after a big one like this past one. I was either shoveling (which wasn't that fun, lol!) or playing football in the snow or some other activity and usually wasn't allowed back in the house until dark! Ask yourself this, since this snow storm, how many kids have you seem outside playing in this snow? I realize with the temps that perhaps it's not that great of an idea, however, it is Wisconsin and thus weather is to be expected. I've hardly seen any and that's rather sad especially when you listen to people my age and older talk about always being outside and not this weight problem that we now have. Bottom line, this is about parents not doing there jobs and the kids paying the price not only physically, but also missing out on some great memories with there kids as well!
  • by MyO Location: EC on Dec 16, 2010 at 02:21 PM
    Bill, don't you want there to be healthy options for kids at school? You want kids to only be served Pizza, mashed potatoes, and cake? WTH? Why would you be oposed to healthier meals for kids? Jane, in case you haven't read an entire McDonald's menu, there are plenty of healthy options, such as salads and grilled chicken sandwiches without mayo. FYI, there are plenty of unhealthy things you can buy at Subway (eat fresh) too. Don't assume. It makes you look ignorant.
  • by no-Nonsens Location: EC on Dec 16, 2010 at 01:59 PM
    Whatever happened to parents being responsible for what their kids are eating? If they think their particular school doesn't have healthy enough lunches, talk to the school board. Otherwise, send them with lunch from home.
  • by jacky on Dec 16, 2010 at 01:44 PM
    Thank God for this capitalistic society. It is wonderful to have these terribly mean tax payers helping to pay for free breakfasts, lunches, snacks and junk food for others. These same people who can't afford nutritious food for their darlings can usually afford the best t.v. and electronics and cell phones with texting plans. (I know. I have seen it.) They also get the same health care for much less. There is definitely something wrong with this picture. I have heard people saying that the government hasn't done anything for them. Just what do you think the government should do for you and why should it do this? It isn't the government it is tax payers!! The government can't give anything that it hasn't first taken from someone else. Please, you fat lazy parents raising fat lazy kids, you don't deserve anything unless you work for it . Teach your children that!
  • by Jane Location: Neillsville on Dec 16, 2010 at 10:08 AM
    I don't know about other school districts, but, Neillsville has a very healthy lunch menu. Even everyday they are offered a fresh salad bar, which I never had the choice of years ago! They can only gets seconds on the fresh fruits. All meals are prepared fresh in the school kitchen. I guess we are blessed to have a good woman in charge of their meals! And does anyone recall seeing several different photos of the Obamas being photgraphed of coming out of McDonalds frquently? They are all about "Do as I say. not as I do!!!!
  • by Anonymous on Dec 16, 2010 at 10:02 AM
    When i was in High School, they hired some fancy new lunchroom "nutritionist" (who was very very overweight himself...) and when he started serving Soyburgers and junk like that, I started bringing my own lunch. Problem solved.
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