Prairie View elementary students are embracing recent changes to the school's lunch program this year. The national School Lunch Program was recently revamped in an effort to provide healthier meals to students in schools throughout the U.S.
Student Sasha, age 10, called it "good and healthy" a sentiment echoed by other nine and 10 year old students. The students said they liked the fresh fruit snack, new this year, with all of them saying, with a smile, they really liked kiwis.
Head Cook Loretta Weinmann says the main changes to the program are limiting protein to two grams and emphasizing more fruits and vegetables and more whole grains.
"Students have to have either a fruit or a vegetable on their lunch tray," Weinmann said.
In addition, the students are receiving a fresh fruit snack served during a break during the longest part of their day, which she says "has been a major hit." Weinmann says the fresh fruit, most of it sourced locally, offerings have included pineapple, grapes, apples and honeydew melons.
The school is being assisted in implementing the program through a federal grant. The revised lunch program has received some negative national press in recent months, however, at Prairie View the students, parents and the staff who have to implement it are all supportive. Prairie View Principal Lynn Goodwill says the school held a parent's day recently, where parents were able to sample the lunch, and parents were supportive of the changes.
"It was 100 percent positive feedback," Goodwill said.
Weinmann and Goodwill said it's important to note that the revised program hasn't cut popular items, such as pizza, from the lunch line up or made portion sizes smaller. Instead, Weinmann said items such as pizza has been made healthier by making it with a whole grain crust.
As for criticism that says the revised program leaves students hungry, Goodwill says "we don't send kids out hungry" and that students have the option of having extra bread if they feel they haven't had enough to eat off of their lunch plate, or they can order a second lunch.
Goodwill said the new lunch program was recently evaluated by officials and passed with "flying colors." She said Prairie View teachers have been helpful in educating students about the new guidelines and encouraging them to try the new healthier snacks.