Everyday Parenting - School Lunches

Jon & Taryn Vanderford

You might say that school lunches are getting a makeover.

More whole grains and less fats are becoming the standard. But do kids like the new options? Jon and Taryn Vanderford decided to look for answers within the Lincoln Public School system.

Healthy eating is on display in school lunchrooms like the one at Adams Elementary School in Lincoln. Here, and across the LPS district, officials are offering more nutritious choices.

"Our entrees, we have changed those by watching the fat content, we are 30 percent or more less on fat, and 10 percent or less on saturated fat," LPS Director of Nutrition Services Edith Zumwalt says.

Even pizza is more nutritious than ever. "Our pizza is on a whole wheat crust and our chicken nuggets have a whole grain crust, which a lot of people don't realize, which makes them healthier," Zumwalt says.

As you might imagine, kids do have their favorites. Some told Jon and Taryn their favorite school lunch food is the french toast sticks. Others said it was the creamed turkey. But in most cases, the kids said they don't mind the healthier offerings, like the whole grain bread. And some said they can't taste the difference at all.

Adams Elementary School cafeteria manager Yvonne Mihulka says getting kids to eat healthier items, can take time and patience.

"They kind of look at it and go, "Oooh". But then the next time they surprise you and take it," Mihulka says.

And that can be the trick. How do you offer healthy lunches that kids will eat?

"A few years ago, we tried whole grain pasta, and it was not well received. A lot of it went in the trash. The pasta today isn't as dark and it's better accepted, so we are trying it again," Zumwalt says.

LPS officials say more of the nutritious offerings are staying on the table, and not going in the trash these days.

One choice facing some debate in schools is chocolate milk. A number of school districts across the country are considering banning it from school lunches. LPS Director of Nutrition Services Edith Zumwalt says she is not in favor of that idea. She says chocolate milk is still milk, and it's a good way for kids to get calcium.

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  • by Michel Location: Jackson on Mar 28, 2012 at 11:06 AM
    I think school lunches should be based on necessery nutrition my son is 6'4 and 200 pounds in the 7 th grade plays basketball and football but still gets the same amount of lunch and breakfast as a preschool student.
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  • by Rick Location: South Bend on Mar 26, 2012 at 07:05 AM
    Schools lunches are not the problem. The problem is parents NOT taking away the video games and making their kids go outside and do something.
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