School hopes to decrease childhood obesity with menu changes

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - According to the Center for Disease Control, childhood obesity is decreasing in several states, but not here in Arkansas.

Nettleton School District Child Nutrition Director, Dawn Ragsdale, said they're making changes to their menu to assure that students will get a healthy meal and actually eat it.

"What we did for this year was go from a six week rotation to a four week rotation," said Ragsdale. "We tried to put in the stuff they would eat and what we thought they would eat better, but still get what they needed."

It wasn't just lunches that saw a change. Their breakfast menu now has a strict calorie count for all grade groups.

"If it says banana then that is the fruit you need to use because that's the calories we counted for that," said Ragsdale.

She said the changes they've made within the schools, are creating healthy habits the students have picked up outside the cafeteria.

"They tell them when they come to the breakfast line that they had real pineapple at home, because they had pineapple sticks or something here," said Ragsdale.

It's not easy meeting the expectations of what the kids want to eat, but they've managed to fit in nutrition while still keeping students happy.

"There's days we do turn up greens because that meets requirement, but on the days that we do those we really try to do that with something we know they will eat," said Ragsdale.

By finding the happy medium between the two, they're able to fight two of the epidemics she sees far too often with students.

"We're trying to follow the regulations and still make meals that the kids will eat so that they don't go home hungry," said Ragsdale. There is a fine line between the obesity epidemic and the hunger epidemic that we see here."

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