INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WISH) – School lunches haven’t always been known for being 5-star quality, but now schools are making efforts to change their menus to provide healthier options that kids actually want to eat.
Schools like Perry Township are doing taste tests and updating their menus to offer options that the kids want that also fit the USDA requirements.
“We offer milk, fruit, vegetables, which we offer fresh everyday. As well as a meat, meat alternative and a grain,” says Director of Child Nutrition for Perry Township Schools, Erin Coleman.
Registered dietitian and WISH-TV host Annessa Chumbley says when kids are going through the line it’s important that they add a few items to their tray, “so if there was a checklist I would make sure it includes a fruit, a veggie, and protein.”
Vegetables, they are not the most popular item on the lunch line but the more often they are available the more likely a kid is to put it on their tray.
“The more exposure that you can do, the better,” says Coleman.
“Make those things at home, and also get your kid involved in cooking them. Because I really think and have seen that that helps them want to eat it,” says Chumbley.
Perry Township lets parents and students give feedback on their menu items.
“I think the more feedback we get and the options that we can offer them, and stay up to date with trends and change the menus too, the more participation we get,” says Coleman.
It is not only important that kids eat lunch but that they get some type of protein in. “Lunch is the pivotal point in the day because depending on what you chose you are going to experience the afternoon slump and that is when a lot of kids need to be performing in their day,” says Chumbley.
“They need food for fuel for their brain to get them through the day,” says Coleman.
The USDA requires students to take at least three items from the line two of which have to be a fruit or vegetable.
“We try to pack as much nutrition into a meal as we can to ensure they are at least getting a couple servings of fruits and vegetables a day in case they don’t have that option at home,” says Coleman.
Experts also suggest educating your kids at the grocery store or while you are eating dinner on why fruits and vegetables are important and how they fuel your body. They say this can also help encourage them to make a healthy choice in the lunch line.