October 13-17 is designated as National School Nutrition Week, and school lunches across America, and at home in the Ohio Valley, have made a complete turn around.
Studies have shown that kids who eat the school lunch have better attention, performance and health. The lunch line at Wheeling Park High School is packed with students each day. Part of the reason are some big changes enacted in 2010.
“The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 really put forth significant changes to the school lunch program,” said Renee Griffin, the Ohio County Nutrition Director.
The act mandated more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, more low-fat options and more low-fat dairy products. Griffin says in Ohio County, they’re offering all of these options. “From homemade cole slaw, fresh carrots, apple slices, fresh broccoli, we have hummus, we have low-fat cottage cheese. Our main entrée today was cheeseburgers with lettuce on a whole grain bun. And in addition we served a garden burger today,” she said.
Griffin added years ago, there might have been a lot more casserole-type dishes. “Today, kids don’t really go for that,” she said. She said today’s consumer is more health-savvy, even the young consumer. There are also cold lunch entrees too, like whole grain tortilla wraps, grapes, spinach salad, fresh red peppers, bananas, vegetarian baked beans, applesauce and more.
With over 1,600 students at Wheeling Park, the process has to stay fast and efficient. The line flows quickly and students even pay by fingerprint recognition. They are able to fill their tray and grab a bottle of water or milk, and they’re off to their table.