Healthy school lunches: helping or hurting?

TOPEKA (KSNT) – The past four years schools across the United States have been using the new meal standard. Some worried that the changes would result in fewer students eating school lunches.

“At first, we did see a lot of waste,” says Nicole Jahnke with USD 501 Nutrition Services.

This was something many schools were prepared for when the new standard for meals was changed. But now years into the new program, “we learned over sometime to teach them what foods are good to eat and they adapted,” says Stan Vallis the Auburn-Washburn food supervisor.

Jahnke says they’ve “introduced new foods to the kids, kiwi, cantaloupe, honeydew,” having a variety of fruits, vegetables and main course options is the key to help students choose healthier foods.

Jahke says USD 501 also provides ways to make trying the healthy foods more fun, with a fruits and vegetables program. “Where each child in the school gets a sampling of more exotic type foods and a lot of them have not ever heard or seen these things.”

For those in the Auburn-Washburn district, their lunchrooms have full kitchens and bakeries. So any breads or baked treats are made in house, making it easier to help the students enjoy healthier meals.

Vallis says “if they don’t eat it then we don’t make it anymore. We switch it up or we get a different product.” And it’s this flexibility from the schools that help, “kids going in from elementary to middle school to high school and the eating habits of those grade levels are changing.”

Auburn-Washburn officials say that if parents are concerned about anything their children are eating, they are welcome to come try it out themselves.

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