Schools required to offer healthier food items next year

(FOX19) - Starting next school year schools around the nation will be required to offer healthier foods for breakfast and lunch.

New nutrition standards have been phased in over the past two years with more on the way. It has caused some grumbling among some school districts who complain healthier foods cost more and the kids won't eat it.

At one northern Kentucky school, good nutrition doesn't come at the expense of taste.

It's chicken tender day at Dixie Heights High School. School officials say it's likely the most popular item on the menu for the more than 1,000 kids who pass daily through the cafeteria.

Kenton County Schools spokeswoman Jess Dykes says they offer a variety of healthy foods.

"That includes whole grains, that includes several servings of fruits and vegetables that are fresh as well as nutrient rich foods," said Dykes.

Many of Kenton County's 14,000 students eat lunch and or breakfast at school, but providing healthy foods that kids will eat isn't always easy.

Dixie Heights Junior Margo McGehee says she likes what's on the menu.

"I think the selection's great, especially from in the past I've know that before there weren't as many options - especially healthy options," she said.

While some food service directors complain that kids won't eat whole grain pasta or pizza, Dixie Heights Junior Peter Fields says he can't get enough of it.

"It motivates me to eat healthier by having healthier choices when there's not junk food lying around all the time," said Fields. "It's a big help for me to eat healthier. As an athlete it's necessary that I get the right nutrients and calories."

Like many school districts, Cincinnati Public Schools superintendent Mary Ronan says they are gradually introducing the changes.

"We started with a salad bar which students love," said Ronan. "You know, we have banana peppers and pickle slices on them and then we have like a spice area to get students used to different flavors so they're not always going for the salt and sugar really so that I think has helped us greatly that we haven't experienced students complaining."

Kenton County school officials say they embrace the new nutrition standards because healthier foods make healthier students.

The new guidelines will require that pasta and breads be whole grain rich or more than half whole grain and sodium levels have to be lower.

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