More parents complain about healthy eating than kids - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

More parents complain about healthy eating than kids

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed a new rule Thursday to replace sugary junk foods with healthy alternatives for the first time.

Students will see less of donuts, potato chips and candies in the vending machines and fried, greasy foods will slowly disappear in the school's a-la-carte cafeteria line as well. More vegetables, fruits and baked foods will be on the menu by 2014 and 2015.

However, this rule does not apply to fundraisers, after-school concession stands and foods from home.

The government made this new change in order to decrease the child obesity rate. About 20 percent of children in the nation are obese, and the government decided to solve this problem by having the schools serve healthier meals.

Karen Davis, a Muscogee County School Districts nutritionist, said she does not worry about students in Columbus complaining about the new, healthier change. Davis explained that the school cafeterias in Muscogee County have been serving more fruits and vegetables than processed foods for about two years now. Davis said they hoped to encourage students and teachers to eat healthy, and she is now glad that the government has actually implanted a rule on this issue.

"We have been doing really well, actually. For few years now, we made sure to provide students and faculty members with vegetables, fruits and whole grains," Davis continued. "Thanks to this new rule, the vending machines will have to carry whole wheat snacks instead of candy bars. Young children in elementary school rarely complain about eating vegetables, because they are still young. It is easier for them to adapt to new eating habits. If anything, a small number of high school students demand more sugary foods, since they are used to eating unhealthy."

Davis also mentioned that parents are the ones who actually complain about lack of burgers, hot dogs and even sugary drinks.

"Parents, especially the ones of middle school boys, often complain that their children need more protein. They say we need to bring more burgers and even sugary drinks for the students, but I am hoping that they realize balanced meals are the best for everyone's health," Davis explained. "You can also find proteins in beans and other vegetables as well.  And we still have meat in our menu! We are just going to try to avoid providing fried and buttery foods."

Although the new rule does not affect fundraiser, Davis says she will continue to encourage the school to try selling healthier alternative snacks to sell for fundraiser.

"Caramel apples or chocolate covered raisins are healthier fundraising foods," Davis said. "However, I am going to try to have the school also try selling other items besides food for fundraising. Wall papers, pencils or headbands… non-food items can be popular, too!"

Seamless Summer program provides free breakfast and lunch to participating Muscogee County schools. Davis says cafeteria employees provide steamed vegetables and baked meals during the summer time as well.

"The food we provide for the students and adults who pay a small fee can all enjoy healthy foods, like salads, potatoes, carrots along with meat and low-fat milk," Davis said. "We do not serve unhealthy foods during the summer time just because it is easier. We continue to promote healthy eating and life style through out the year."

Davis says children also need role models who practice healthy lifestyle. She recommends that parents cook more meals that are healthy, baked and organic. Although some members of the family may not enjoy the healthy foods right away, Davis said it is important for people to adapt healthy eating habits as soon as possible.

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