Thursday, June 26, 2014

Kentucky school nutritionists meet amid some opposition to federal school-lunch guidelines aimed at curbing child obesity

Kentucky schools are working to adjust to the federal nutrition requirements for school lunches, but are facing some opposition from students, parents and some school nutritionists. The U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, aimed at curbing childhood obesity, require schools to include a fruit and vegetable with every meal, to switch to 100 percent whole grains by next year, to impose age-based restrictions on calorie and sodium intake, and to serve 1-percent-fat milk. Now the School Nutrition Association, which recently started getting half its money from major food companies, and other groups are supporting legislation to offer a one-year waiver to schools losing money on meal programs.

School nutritionists from all over Kentucky, which ranks high in child obesity, are encouraging students to eat healthier food throughout the school day. "About 700 school cooks, managers and administrators are meeting for a statewide conference this week in Lexington," reports Stu Johnson of WEKU-FM and Kentucky Public Radio. from a meeting of the Kentucky School Nutrition Association.

KSNA President Sabrina Jewell told Johnson that many students in the upper grades are not eating the newfangled meals, and some are even leaving campus to eat elsewhere. Federal funding is based on participation, "so, if they don't eat, then we don't have the money to run our programs. General school taxes and all, they don't pay for school nutrition. We're paid off of the meals that we serve."

However, Jewell said elementary-school children are adapting better to the new standards than middle and high schoolers. The switch "is just taking a little longer than we anticipated," she said. (Read more)

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