Blytheville students help develop school food menus

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - A Region 8 school district is giving students an opportunity to shape their school food menus as food service administrators across the U.S. make changes to menus per federal guidelines.

Blytheville Public Schools students from kindergarten through twelfth grade attended a food show with several vendors to taste the options that are being considered for the 2013-2014 school year.

The show was held at the BPS Multi-Purpose Building on the Primary School campus from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

"We have a lot of changes for next year with our breakfast and our lunches, and I go to a lot of food shows, but I thought it'd be better if these kids here got to choose what they ate," said BPS Food Service Director Tiffany Snyder. "We're having to offer more whole grains, more fruits, more vegetables. Breakfast is going to have a lot more fruits added to it. It kind of takes away from all the sweets they're used to eating and puts the healthier stuff in."

The changes are due to the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, a federal overhaul of school menus aimed at tackling the childhood obesity epidemic in the U.S.

A complaint from critics of the act is that the sweeping changes do not take into account the budgets of smaller school districts. BPS serves about 1,800 students.

"Our budget's pretty good, our food service budget. So, we're able to give them... pick and choose what they like to eat," Snyder said. "We're just going to get their opinion, and they'll give us feedback and we'll go from there."

Ten vendors brought healthier versions of meat, vegetable, bread and snack items for several students from each grade to sample.

"I think it's a better idea because the food we have now, it ain't too good," said 7th grader Lacie Aaron.

"It was really good. They appealed to different kinds of people, not just meats and stuff. They picked different varieties of foods," said 10th grader Jessie Khatrao.

Snyder said most of the changes will take effect next year, but some of the items tasted today could be implemented during the 2012-2013 school year.

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