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Local schools helping combat obesity

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About 70% of Americans are either overweight or obese. Federal efforts to help fight this problem starting at a young age seem to be showing progress locally. 

Students in Amarillo schools are having healthier meals this school year. The USDA certified the district this week as they're meeting and exceeding USDA guidelines.

AISD Child Nutrition Services Director Brent Hoover says, "We're taking, really, nutrition and health, and the well being of our students really seriously. And we're committed to that.  So what we did is we set out to meet those guidelines."

In turn, for the first time, the USDA is giving them 6 pennies per every meal so they can offset the costs spent for healthier foods. He says, " We're reinvesting those moneys back into high quality food."

This year AISD's focus is on providing more nutritious lunches. Next year, will be breakfast. It's a progressive effort that will be improving school meals, every year, for the rest of this decade. 
This year they're also limiting desserts to twice a month, and offering whole grain on hamburger buns and chicken nuggets. 

Hoover says, "All students are required to take either a fresh fruit or vegetable with their meal. If they don't, then they can't access that meal." And next year the district is planning on reducing sodium as well as adding more organic vegetables like tomatoes.
Hoover says the students are being receptive. "We see an increase of not only kids taking it, but we're also removing the items that compete against that. So we encourage all the kids to eat healthier."

The district is also working on adding promotions to engage students more and find out what their needs are. They're meeting with youth advisory committees every quarter. Hoover says, "We allow them about half of that menu, is just to give us some feedback. And tell us what's good, what are their favorite things, and what would they like to see changes in our program."

The district has surveyed more than 900 kids at the various campuses to find out what they like to eat so they can make adjustments and offer foods they like in a healthy way.
 
Jessica Abuchaibe, NewsChannel 10.

 

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