First Lady and Secretary of Agriculture Announce New Nutrition Standards

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POSTED: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 7:59pm

UPDATED: Thursday, January 26, 2012 - 6:20pm

Local School Has Already Started Including New Foods on Menu

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released better food standards for the country.

Starting with next school year, lunch lines will provide more fruit and whole grains. It's the first big change in 15 years on cafeteria menus. About 32-million children in the united states eat lunch at school. The government is requiring higher nutrition standards like more vegetables and less salt. 

First Lady Michelle Obama and the Agriculture Department announced the lunch menu changes at a school in Virginia.

NewsChannel Nine spent the day with the food services director for Canutillo schools to see how they're the handling the new regulations. She says it's a tough task to convince children to eat the right foods and change some habits. Canutillo's trying to make the lunch menu appealing and tasty, as close as they can get to a home-cooked meal.

At some schools it's been tough to convince their kids to eat the food and not toss it.

"We can cook an eight hour day but if the foods going to be thrown away what efforts have we made," said Adele Balesh, the Food Services Director for Canutillo ISD. Her management team is happy to be following the new regulations.

"We're making them appealing, we're asking children to try them uh getting their feedback because children want us to know how they feel about things."

They make an effort to put familiar, cultural foods on the menu.

"Chick peas, beans, black beans..we do a Santa Fe salad with corn and black beans which is interesting topped off with a little bit of red pepper," Balesh said.

One thing that isn't changing is a kid's favorite, pizza. It's on the USDA's list for approved foods.

"The tomato paste that is being placed on pizza will be placed on whole wheat crust you're gonna have low fat cheese, lower sodium," said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

The kids at Jose H. Damian Elementary school look like they're having a great time during lunch.

"I'm eating jello, salad and pizza and milk..it's like home," one student said.

Balesh says the food options need to be packed with nutrients because they combat diseases in childhood and adulthood. 

Damian Elementary school also has a physical education class that meets three times a week. They make sure kids have health lessons and know how to choose the right foods. Between exercise and better eating, the goal is for kids to succeed in their school work.

Comments News Comments

The government and the White House need to stay out of our grocery lists, period. The regulations mandated on elementary schools in Cal and other places are extremely expensive and do not work. Kids and parents opt out by having their kids take a lunch or eat outside the school. Waste is all the government contributes when interfering with the work that should be of parents. The problem is mainly with poorer people that actually spend more on fast food than to make food at their home.

Our kids are not over weight and becoming ill
because of what is served in schools. They are over weight because of what they are given at home. Let's face it, almost of all El Paso is on LoneStar or whatever they call it now. What should be regulated is what they can buy. I see carts full of unhealthy items while at the store and then I see some kids who are over weight. If this aid is given with guidelines on what can be purchased, then kids would be better off.

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