Students give feedback on new school lunch choices


by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @MegCoyleKING

Posted on January 26, 2012 at 7:05 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:45 AM

A lot of hoopla as first lady Michelle Obama unveiled new federal guidelines for school lunches. It means healthier choices coming to a school near you. So what's the review from the toughest food critics?
It's lunchtime at White Center Heights Elementary, where staff are serving up corn dogs. And not the typical fried fare, either. They're baked in a whole grain crust and served not with french fries, but with roasted potatoes. And the reviews? Just ask Josephine Vongsengchanh: "I'd say it's good, amazing. Um...what else?"
Josephine may be at a loss for words. But there's something missing from her plate-- fruits and vegetables. And there are plenty to choose from-- bananas, kiwis, apples, carrots, broccoli, garbanzo beans, to name a few. But the healthy snack bar is optional. And that's intentional.

"It's a choice," says Chris Neal, Director of Nutrition Services for Highline Public Schools.
New federal guidelines require schools feature healthier fare, something White Center Heights Elementary's already been doing for years.

"We encourage students to make healthy choices and we educated them on what those fruits and vegetables are. And we hope that they'll pick what they're going to eat form the bar but we can't make them consume it."
The new guidelines double the amount of fruits and vegetables offered in school lunches. The question is, what counts? French fries are considered a vegetable because they're potatoes. And pizza is considered healthy because of the tomato sauce.
But Highline Public Schools, at least, aren't skimping on the snack bar.

"Maybe yes it is counted as a vegetable but in our district we count the fresh fruits and vegetables that are on our bar," said Chris Neal, Director of Nutrition Services.

Students here are tasting the difference.

"It's pretty good, I like it," says 6th grader Angel Carranco.
And teachers are seeing a difference. Attendance rates have never been higher. Math scores are up. OK so maybe the snack bar and corn dogs can take all the credit, but in a school helping lead the way to healthier living-- it's food for thought.
The most recent report from the State Department of Health shows about a quarter of Washington High School studnets are considered obese.
The new guidelines require all public schools begin phasing in healthier fare starting the next school year.