By Teachers, For Teachers
Raleigh County schools are working to fall within the new federal guidelines for lunch menus that became effective this year.
Other school systems across the United States face the same mandate.
Surprisingly, the attempt locally to provide healthier options has been met with resistance.
New federal guidelines stipulate both the minimum and the maximum of grain, whole grain, proteins, vegetables, calories and fruits students can have.
Sweets and fatty foods are being limited.
At a Raleigh County Board of Education meeting last week, parents expressed concerns that students had not been given alternative lunch choices as well and children are complaining of being hungry.
Some have refused to eat the new items.
But will a child ever choose healthier options if another item is within reach?
Besides, that wouldn't line up with the new federal guidelines anyway.
And the penalty would be steep, according to Teresa Baker, director of child nutrition, who said, "If the state were to do an audit on us and we were not within the federal and state guidelines, we could lose our right to have a National School Lunch Program in our county. That means instead of paying $1 to $1.40 for lunch, students would be paying around $5 to $6 and there would no longer be free and reduced lunches offered to low-income students."
Baker added, "Raleigh County is having a shock and it is going to take time for us to perfect the menu and for parents and students to get used to it."
West Virginia is among the leaders in childhood obesity.
Among the comments offered Tuesday, it was revealed that some area children had never eaten baked beans or brown beans. One had "never seen white rice."
Is it any wonder children are perplexed by the new options?
Chicken nuggets and french fries have become staples of kids' diets these days.
Wholesome foods need to be introduced at home, so as to not "shock" a child when he or she becomes of school age.
The message needs to start at home, to reverse the unhealthy trends of obesity and diabetes in our state.
The only alternative for parents who don't want to subject their children to the ghastly fruits, vegetables and proteins?
Pack their lunch.
But we hope you'll still consider their health when dropping items in that brown sack.
(c)2012 The Register-Herald (Beckley, W.Va.)
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Distributed by MCT Information Services
Read how schools in Hawaii are providing their students with healthier lunches.