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Healthy School Lunch -One private school is already meeting government standards

by Robyn Estabrook (DEWITT) It used to be the norm to get fast unhealthy lunches in the school cafeteria. However, through theHealthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the Obama administration is changing that by putting stricter standards on school lunches across the United States. The new standards for public schools include more vegetables, fruits, wholes grains, and one percent milk. A private school in DeWitt is already taking those strides.


Healthy options at MPH

At Manlius Pebble Hill School, students can choose from soups, salads, sandwiches, or the hot meal of the day. They are also provided with breakfast and healthy snacks, including apples.

“I think it is my duty to inform kids about nutrition as much as possible so they will make healthier choices here,” said Mary Judd, Food Service Director at MPH.

Students at MPH enjoy the options and think they are better off than students at public schools.

“They definitely don’t have as many options. As far as the healthiness I’m not really sure. But I think that because we have so many options that kids have the choice to eat healthy so that is important,” said Lucy Zwigard, MPH sophomore.

A campaign to be healthier

Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign is not only about eating healthy but also about exercising.

Jane Uzcategui, Syracuse University Nutrition Instructor, said “People are much less active than they used to be. We have a lot of kids that aren’t getting much physical activity. It is really a balance equation. What they are eating calories in, versus what they are expending.”

More specific standards

There have been standards for school lunches before, but this is the first major change in 15 years. According to the government website, an example of an old school lunch at public schools consisted of cheese pizza, canned pineapple, tater tots with ketchup, and one percent chocolate milk. After the standards are in place that meal will change to whole wheat cheese pizza, baked sweet potato fries, grape tomatoes, low fat ranch dip, applesauce, and one percent milk.

“There’s much more specific requirements that say okay what is a reasonable number of calories or sodium for our kids. And we are looking at over the next few years at reducing sodium content by almost fifty percent,” said Uzcategui.

Uzcategui said that it is not too hard to go to a healthier lifestyle, especially for children.

“When we look at revamping school lunch or eating habits people feel overwhelmed or that it has to be so difficult. And what is really important are very small gradual changes so that you don’t realize changes are being made and then all of a sudden everything comes back into balance.”

The new standards go into effect March 26 and all schools will have to comply by July 1.

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