School Cafeterias are Offering Healthier Choices

By Melissa Crash

Published 08/07 2014 04:31PM

Updated 08/07 2014 06:54PM

New standards by the U.S. Department of Agriculture have schools improving the meals that they serve.

But it's not easy keeping up with the changing guidelines.

Students are seeing more fresh options and less processed food when they head to the lunch line.

At Linton-Stockton Elementary, officials are making sure they focus on balancing the diets of their students.

Students can say good-bye to mysterious lunch meats, and hello to fruits and vegetables. The USDA is raising the standards to improve the health and nutrition of nearly 32 millions kids, at Linton-Stockton Elementary, their efforts start before lunch.

Jessica Taylor, the Food Service Director for Linton-Stockton Schools said, "Our main thing is right now we're really trying to push breakfast. I think a lot of kids either don't get to eat at home or don't eat healthy at home."

Healthier meals are a daily requirement at the school. Incorporating whole grain in their crusts, lowering sodium intake, and making sure each child has a salad or fruit option.

Dustie O'Bryan, the Kitchen Manager said, "We have watermelons and cantaloupes coming on Friday,and that's something we're trying new that we haven't tried before, so kind of anxious to see how the kids like that."

Offering only fat-free or low fat milk varieties and limiting calorie intake is part of the major change, while making sure students are served the right portion size.

"Especially in elementary we start them off young that will be a lifestyle they can get used to and when they take it home, if they're used to doing it here, maybe they can carry that on to home to their siblings that maybe aren't in school yet or maybe even their parents," said Taylor.

But healthier items, can also mean an increasing price.

Taylor said, "It is a little more expensive for the healthier choices, but in the end it's going to be worth it."

Officials say they must do everything possible to provide the kids a balance of food groups.

"We serve the kids things that they will eat, because as you know if they won't eat it, it's not doing them any good," said O'Bryan.

All in hopes for nutritional and active futures.

"We want them to be full and happy in the afternoons, to make better grades," said O'Bryan.

Jessica Taylor mentioned that state officials do stop by to check in on school cafeterias to make sure they are preparing foods that meet the new regulations.

Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.