Friday, September 11, 2015

Newspapers across the state are reporting about school lunch and nutrition programs, of great interest to readers with students

Kentucky newspapers are writing about school meals, against the backdrop of controversy about federal nutrition guidelines, and these are stories with a high level of interest among a key demographic - readers with children of school age.

The Glasgow Daily Times  recently reported that a new deli-style option at Barren County High School has more than doubled its sales of this grab-and-go option since it has been offered this year, compared to the old grab-and-go option that was pre-assembled and served in a bag. The article noted that this new option has been well-received by both the students and staff, all while staying within the new federal nutrition guidelines.

The Hickman County Gazette reported that the county schools have increased breakfast participation to 68 percent, up from 23 percent last year and lunch participation to 95 percent, compared to 77 percent the same time last year. (This story is behind a paywall.)

Schools Nutrition Director Lynsi Barnhill told the newspaper that the increase can be attributed to the nutrition staff working with the students through surveys to create a menu that they like, but still stays within the federal nutrition guidelines; and that the school district is now classified as a Community Eligibility Provision school district, which allows schools to offer breakfast and lunch at no cost to all of its students.

The Independent in Ashland reported on a campaign, called "No Soda September,"  to encourage families in Boyd and Greenup counties to drink more water and less sugary beverages throughout the month. This effort is a partnership between The Appalachian Partnership for Positive Living and Eating and the local Boyd and Greenup counties middle and elementary schools.

"Classes that returned signed pledges received free color-changing water bottles and water trackers for students and teachers. More than 2,300 water bottles have been distributed," Adam Black writes.
This idea was spurred by the health department's 5-2-1-0 APPLE program, which is funded by a grant from the AstraZeneca HeathCare Foundation’s Connections for Cardiovascular Health, that suggest kids get: • 5 servings of fruit or vegetables • 2 hours or less of screen time • 1 hour of physical activity • 0 sugar-added beverages. 

"The consumption of sugary beverages, especially among young children who drink more than one beverage a day, leads to a higher risk of being overweight or obese and children with obesity issues are more likely to suffer from health problems such as asthma, headaches, depression and type 2 diabetes," according to the health department, Black reports.

"Officials also report the consumption of sugary beverages can lead to many dental issues, including cavities that can cause pain, infection, tooth loss and in severe cases, death," he writes.

The News-Graphic in Georgetown reported on how several schools  in Scott County, like many across the state, are conducting food drives to support its "Send Out Snacks Backpack" program to make sure kids don't go hungry over the weekend.

Becky McDonald, the family resources coordinator at Garth and Eastern elementary schools told Kayla Pickrell of the News-Graphic that the backpack program helps children who are on free or reduced lunch have food over the weekend by giving them backpacks with enough easy to prepare breakfast, lunch and snack foods to last until they come back to school on Monday. 

 “We have families who struggle to feed their kids over the weekend” because they are used to the free or reduced lunch during the week, McDonald said. “It helps out the parents a lot.” (This story is behind a paywall.)

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