LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Cafeterias nationwide are healthierplaces after the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act went into effect this schoolyear.
Lufkin health officials say the goalof the initiative is to combat the obesity epidemic in children.
"All the grains have to be wholegrain at least half the time, and by this time next year, it will be more,"Donna Middaugh, Lufkin ISD's director of student nutrition, said. "Fruits andvegetables used to be one food group and now it's two."
The new healthy lunch law comes with anew calorie cap. Middaugh says the school district uses planning analysis softwareand student taste testing to design meals that fit the law's requirements andsatisfy student taste buds.
"The pizza we serve has wholegrain crust, lower in fat, special sauce and some of them have reduced sodiumsauce," Middaugh said.
Health officials say introducingstudents to healthier food earlier will reduce their risk for long term medicalproblems. Sarah Feye, a diabetic intern at Stephen F. Austin State University,said kids are now getting Type 2 diabetes, which was once an adult-onsetdisease.
"If they get it when they're 10,by the time they're 30, they're going to have a lot of damage," Feye said.
Officials say is takes about eight to10 times of trying food to create a taste for it and once students exposed tohealthy options it will become a habit.
"They won't even think about asthey get older it will just be a part of their lifestyle as they becometeenagers and young adults and as true adults they may be able to make thesedecisions for themselves," Marilyn Kegler, Lufkin ISD's director of health services,said.
Officials hope this healthy eatinglesson will stick with students even after they graduate.