School lunches to become healthier, include more fruits, veggies

ELLERSLIE, GA (WXTX) - The Harris County School System has been slowly adding healthy items to their menu for about five years. Officials told News Leader Nine that slow progression means kids do not easily realize they are eating "green" things.

Harris County Schools Nutrition Director, Phoebe Layson, said, "The carrots are fresh and the celery is fresh. The chicken noodle soup is made with whole grain noodles. The cheese sandwich is made with whole grain bread and reduced fat cheese."

In new standards released by the federal government Wednesday, schools must slash sodium, limit calories, and offer a wide variety of fruits and veggies.

Phenix City Schools are already in compliance with the standards but are working to reduce sodium by triple rinsing canned vegetables.

The federal government will increase reimbursement to schools by six cents per meal.  "Which of course does not cover the fruit and veggies and it does not cover the whole wheats, but it is some help," explained Layson.

Layson said gradually adding in the healthier foods allowed them to increase their budget over time.

This all stems from the Healthy, Hunger, Free Kids Act of 2010 which realized that one third of children in the US are overweight or obese. Kids aged 6 to11 are ten pounds heavier than 15 years ago.

The guidelines released only apply to school meals.  They will be releasing regulations for vending machines and stores in the future.

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