Lunchroom Controversy Brews in Region 8 School

September 20, 2006 - Posted at 6:42 p.m. CDT

BROSELEY, MO -- Region 8 schools are now battling the fight against childhood obesity but the controversy is brewing in one district where students and parents are questioning portion sizes and folks asking just how much food is enough for students?

The Twin Rivers School District has seen many changes in its cafeteria this academic year.  A state mandated wellness program and new food service vendor OPAA are cutting calories and controlling portion sizes.

"It's just really been cut back and they only let us go through one time," said Junior Cameron Galloway, "You can go through and then you can go through again and buy more, but I don't think we should have to.  Some people may not have enough money or something to go through and get something else and then they'll be hungry the rest of the day."

"I actually like the food better, but the portions are smaller so I don't get as full.  But I think the food tastes better," commented Senior Courtney Birdwell. A petition among parents has prompted some changes in the menu.

"We're looking at things everyday to try and make it better.  Overall I think it is getting better," said Superintendent Andy Arbeitman, "If you just measured on the first week of school, I would agree with the kids about the portions, but as you ate today, you can see there was plenty of portions for the kids to eat."

Students are able to purchase food a la cart and the school offers peanut butter sandwiches and cheese & crackers in addition to normal meals...but some say it's not enough.

"We don't ever get this much food and we used to get a half a peanut butter sandwich and today when you're cameras showed up, we got a whole one," said Galloway.

Junior Nickie French doesn't believe students should have to pay extra for lunch.

"I think a la cart is a waste of money.  I don't think you should have to pay for school food.  It's the same food that they were serving last year, the only thing different that they are doing is selling it this year," said French.

The school has also replaced all sodas with diet or low calorie drinks.  Some students feel the fight against childhood obesity isn't just in the lunchroom.

"They need to incorporate physical education in younger grades.  I mean elementary classes they are getting P.E. once a week and they should be getting it everyday," said Senior Holt Pride.

"We serve a good meal, we serve a good nutritional meal and somewhere down the road it's going to pay off for those students," said Larry Morran, OPAA Representative.

"It takes more than just the school," said Superintendent Arbeitman, "The school district has a part of in it, but the parents, the community, and the students have to help make the right decision and choices too."