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Thursday, January 26, 2012

New federal guidelines for school lunches

Written byJay Olstad, KARE 11- Jan 26, 2012

CHANHASSEN, Minn. - Over the years, the school lunch line has been almost a rite of passage for kids, but unfortunately not always the healthiest.

But new guidelines passed by the U.S. Congress hope to change that. It's the first major nutritional overhaul of school lunches in 15 years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled new school lunch guidelines Wednesday in an effort to fight childhood obesity.

It will force schools to provide children with twice the amount of fruits and vegetables, as well as more whole grains, and less sodium and Trans fat.

"They're encouraging increase of fruits and veggies, which we know are whole foods and that's the foundation of our diets," said Anika DeCostera, a registered dietician with Lifetime Fitness.

The new rules could take effect as early as next school year.

The federal government would help schools pay for it, which will cost roughly $3.2 billion to implement over the next five years.

"If we're going to provide lunch we should provide the best lunch we can," said Principal Bryan McGinley with Deephaven Elementary School.

McGinley knows what it takes to make this type of transformation. Since September, his school has been part of a pilot program with Lifetime Fitness.

"It's been a success so far," said DeCostera.

DeCostera has helped lead the charge, retraining Deephaven's school cooks on how to make, for the most part, meals from scratch. And it appears the kids actually like eating healthy.

"From what the cooks have been telling me it's been the most salads they've ever sold in a lunch period," she said.

The cost to Deephaven is picked up by Lifetime Fitness.

Some critics argue the rules amount to a government overreach and the new guidelines maybe too expensive for school districts.

But, with obesity becoming a growing problem, proponents wonder if we can afford not to make the changes.

"It's hard to argue providing healthier food for children," said McGinley.

KARE 11:

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