New Nutrition Standards for Public Schools

A recent report by the CDC finds that, overall, children ages 2 through 18 are eating more whole fruits from 2003 to 2010. But with kids eating at least two of their three meals at school, how are the school districts addressing your child's nutritional needs?

Like many parents, Kathy Speer looks after her children's well-being, but when they leave for school she hopes the district is also looking after their nutritional needs. Speer says, "I expect them to be eating good nutritious food like from the five basic food groups. Especially a lot of calcium for their growing bones and teeth."

This year, parents can expect public school districts to hold to a higher standard of nutrition. Both United and Laredo ISD will be reducing their sodium in meals, and providing more whole grains and fruits. In fact, students will be required to choose a fresh fruit for breakfast -- something new for this year. But, what about vegetables? UISD Dietitian Elisa Schwartz says they have a strategy, "Vegetables are not one of the fruits that are not as popular, but we try to couple it with entrees that are popular." Over in LISD, Child Nutrition Program Director Robert Cuellar Jr. says they're trying new things. "We did introduce the spinach-mandarin salad, and that has been a hit in LISD. We're working on other recipes to incorporate most of those vegetable that are not eaten."

Education is also considered when promoting a healthy diet. UISD will be using their new mascot, Miss Healthy, to promote healthy choices. LISD also has teachers modeling good behavior. That's something parents like Kathy recommend. "I think it helps a lot if the parent is a model for them. They pick up a lot of what you're eating."

Also new this year, LISD elementary schools will now be providing students with an in-between fruit or vegetable to be handed out after breakfast or lunch. That's the result of a grant awarded to LISD from the USDA. The first breakfast or lunch is free of charge for students of all incomes in both districts this year; the second meals will come at a cost.

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