Healthier Lunch Options at Schools

By: Elizabeth Lamb Email
By: Elizabeth Lamb Email

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va --- Half of the adults in Virginia and 60-percent of adults in West Virginia will be obese by 2030 according to a report by Trust for America's Health. The report says more than half of the two states population will be obese if rates continue to go up at the current rate. That means there will be millions of new cases for obesity-related diseases and more expensive health care costs.

Cafeteria Manager Debbie Wilkins has worked at J.C. Myers Elementary School for years and has seen the school's menu change. This year changes happened again for students.

“They've adjusted well,” said Wilkins. “Fruits are a hard sell and vegetables are even harder to sell. We try to encourage them to at least taste it. If they don't want the full portion, we'll just say, 'Could you take a little bit and just taste it?'”

Students have fewer products with carbohydrates on their plates. Some kids told a WHSV reporter what they think of the new proportions.

“It has the right amount of vegetables, which usually the vegetables are the best to me,” said Haley Dovel, a fifth-grader.

A typical lunch tray in Rockingham County schools allows for a half cup serving of fruits and a half-cup of vegetables.

About 3-percent fewer students bought school lunch this August compared to last August. The county's director of food services said that number gradually goes up during the school year.

Students say they noticed the change and they like the new menu.

“There's more variety. We're not just eating the same thing over and over,” said Caitlin Epley, another fifth-grader. “Some of the things this year we never had last year.”

Wilkins hopes students will learn new life skills with the new menu.

“Hopefully they'll learn more about nutrition and foods that are good for them,” said Wilkins. “Hopefully they'll eat more of what is good for them.”

The federal government decides on the changes to a school's menu and then it is up to the local food services director to choose the foods students eat.

Rockingham County's director said students have requested foods they miss, like more french fries and more chicken nuggets.

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