Healthier Menus to Hit Local School Cafeterias

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

June 23, 2006

The Albemarle County School Board is hoping a new wellness plan will cut down on the areas obesity rates; they approved the plan last night. Charlottesville Schools voted on a similar plan last week. The basic goal is to get rid of all of the unhealthy junk foods and sodas, replace them with healthier fruits and vegetables, and make sure that kids are eating healthier when away from home.

Childhood obesity rates are skyrocketing in this country, with children as young as 12 being treated for adult diseases like Type II diabetes and heart disease. The Albemarle County School Board is hoping a new wellness plan will cut down on the areas obesity rates; they approved the plan last night. Charlottesville Schools voted on a similar plan last week.

"We have a relatively high prevalence of overweight in both the county and the city, slightly higher in the city, and we want to see that go down," said Peggy Brown-Paviour of the Child Obesity Task Force.

The new menus aim to replace high calorie foods with healthier alternatives such as juice, milk or water instead of soda. They also want to add more physical exercise, in addition to recess.

"They both look at what are the types of foods available on the school campus, not only what's available on the lunch line, but also what is being sold in vending machines, the a la carte line," said Brown-Paviour.

Kimberly Johnson has two boys in the Charlottesville school system. She says offering more healthier options is good, but says the challenge lies more in getting the kids to actually eat it.

"Some kids have phobias against green stuff and you know you have to consider that when you're planning your meals, and try to make it so that it looks good," said Johnson.

School officials say they understand the importance of variety which is why one of their goals is to make the food appealing. They're willing to do whatever it takes to jump-start a healthy eating lifestyle.

"If children are very overweight, often they are the victims of bullying and they become bullies themselves. There are other issues around overweight which really figure in to how well the child can succeed in school," said Brown-Paviour.

Both school systems hope to have a program in place by the beginning of the school year. Federal law requires any school that receives money for lunches to implement a wellness program.


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