Lunchtime alterations shift focus through healthy nutrition

by S. Anderson and E. Lerch, 19 Oct 2006

In response to national trends, West’s administration has taken an aggressive stance on the fight against obesity this year. The district has made food healthier, portions smaller, and the vending machines are making a slow change to diet sodas and juice. Assistant Principal Peter Cernohous believes the changes are responding to national health concerns.

“We switched to healthy food because there had been a major concern of obesity, and a lot of kids at West go for the junk food at lunch,” he said.

However, many of West’s students are opposed to the changes.

“That’s not fair to just change the food. That’s not going to make obesity go away because the school has changed,” said senior Amanda Poff. “Kids are now going to bring their own Pepsi in and what not. The only difference is I’m a senior and changing to 100% healthy food won’t affect me.”

Another student shared a similar opinion with Poff, stating that the healthy decisions should be left up to individual students.

“I don’t like the new ‘healthy food’ at all,” said senior Robyn Dehling. “I think as long as we’re willing to buy the ‘non-healthy’ stuff with our money, we should be able to.”

Some feel that the fight against teenage obesity shouldn’t rest on the schools themselves, and that offering both healthy and snack food alike would boost revenue for the schools.

“I mean, wouldn’t the school make more money if the kids could buy whatever they wanted?” questioned Dehling. “With obesity, it’s not the school’s fault; it’s how [kids] were brought up. So why should the whole school be punished for the way people are brought up?”

In addition to the healthy food switch, West has devised a plan for making paying for food easy and efficient. The school now is allowing students to put money on their student ID card and swipe them in lunch lines to pay for their lunches.

“It seems to have gone over really well,” said school bank clerk Wendy LaCount.

In addition to speed, the ID cards also provide a sense of security for some.

“Parents really like it because they have control [over where the money goes],” said LaCount. “I think that’s a good thing.”

The ID concept also ties in with the scheme to get students to eat healthier foods; the cards are only available for use with combo lunches or to buy single milks.

“Well, honestly, we just made it a combo [lunch] because we know that the child is getting the proper foods that we offer,” said Cernohous. “If you put any kind of food on it, kids are more likely to buy the junk food instead of nutrition.”

Junior Katelyn DeWitt has decided against the student IDs, saying that some of the equally healthy a la carte items should have been included.

“I think that it’s a waste of time. Not everyone wants a combo for their lunch,” she said. “They should put soups on there and the juices on there. Because if it’s a soup that I really like, I usually get that and an apple juice. Why should I have my mom pay money on the student ID if the IDs don’t offer what I like the most?”

However, those closest to the changes feel that they are for the best.

“I feel good that we are trying to give the kids healthier portion and food choices,” commented Pamela Berger, a cook at West.

Berger feels that although some tasty foods were removed from the lunch menu, there are new menu items that provide a healthier alternative, but still cater to the students’ wants.

“I think we offer a good variety of foods,” she said. “We’ve come out with a few new products this year such as the baby roasted potatoes instead of seasoned fries. We have whole wheat buns instead of white buns. We have a bigger variety of wraps. So we have a good start in trying to help our young adults to choose a healthier life style of eating.”

Price issues were also noticed by the students; food portions decreased, while the price remained the same. The school feels that smaller portions will help students refrain from gorging themselves on the unhealthy food. They justify keeping the price the same because it will encourage students not to buy a double portion to compensate. Many students were more than slightly irked by this small inconvenience.

“I think it’s a good idea because the portion sizes have gotten out of control nowdays and we need to get the portions back to where they should be,” said Berger. “Sometimes there are price increases in our food costs, so we thought it better to keep the same price and at the same time keep a healthier portion size instead of raising the cost on the larger portion.”

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This page contains a single entry by ID Admin published on October 20, 2006 12:30 PM.

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