A collaboration between the Fayette Institute of Technology and West Virginia Public Broadcasting reveals that school lunches may be overly sweet and weak on meat. Tabitha Gill and Katie Cameron, both seniors at Fayette Institute of Technology, published an investigative report about their county school lunch program, which was aired Wednesday, Jan 2, 2019 on West Virginia Public Broadcasting morning radio programming.
The text version and audio recording of this report are freely available online at this website: http://www.wvpublic.org/post/high-school-journalists-find-no-regulation-sugar-school-breakfast – stream/0
While conducting research for their report, the two Fayette county seniors interviewed their county health educator, Katie Johnson, as well as Kristy Blower, the State Coordinator of the WV Office of Child nutrition, and Joseph Dooley, the Fayette County schools nutrition director. Gill and Cameron also spoke with the Fayette County Valley Elementary School cook, Kelsey Critchley, who suggested that young students may be initially resistant to eating healthier foods with less sugar.
Along their investigative research path, Gill and Cameron learned that Cabell County Schools have already made the switch to “from scratch cooking” and have found that it didn’t take long for students to become accustomed to and accept the made-from-scratch meals.
[Insert here: Here is one example of a leaner, greener school lunch, which features baked chicken and rosemary potatoes with three sides of fresh vegetables, one fruit, and a fat free chocolate milk.
As cub reporters Gill and Cameron learned, the West Virginia Office of Child Nutrition is encouraging all schools to make their meals from scratch, follow USDA cooking and meal planning standards, and integrate the fresh foods available through school, community, and locally-based small farms so that eating healthy, with less sugar, becomes the norm for school and home-cooked foods.
I’m grateful to Tabitha Gill and Katie Cameron for creating this insightful story for us. I am excited to share their report with parents and other students across West Virginia so we can all explore what improvements we can initiate in our school breakfast and lunch programs and home meals–using less sugar and more garden-fresh food.
Below are links to additional resources for those who want to further explore topics related to school nutrition programs, USDA guidelines about healthy eating, and examples of how school gardens are being used to supplement school nutrition program in West Virginia.