Children and junk food
Hartselle schools a part of battle of the bulge
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Fried foods, sugary snacks and soft drinks may be a thing of the past in schools throughout Alabama if the state Board of Education agrees with recommendations made in Montgomery recently.
Even if the recommendations are not approved, Hartselle City Schools agree with and are already meeting most of the nutritional goals.
A committee established last year to study the health and nutrition of Alabama children made the recommendations May 26 in an unofficial meeting.
The committee said the recommendations are controversial, but necessary.
The committee's proposals, aimed at changing the way students exercise and eat in schools, include:
Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, chair of the nutrition subcommittee, said he and the committee are aware some of the recommendations will be controversial.
"But I know I feel strong, and I know this board feels strong, that there is nothing more important than the health of our children."
State Superintendent Joe Morton will review the committee's proposals and is expected to recommend all, some or none of them to the board for approval this month.
Hartselle City Schools Child Nutrition Director Carol Jane White said she agrees completely with all of the nutritional recommendations.
"I think these changes would be wonderful," White said. "If you go through a cafeteria line in any of Hartselle's schools, you will see that we already serve lots of healthy, low-fat menu choices for our students. No candies or soft drinks are sold in our cafeterias, but French fries are our biggest problem."
White said she is working on a way to serve fries that are delicious, but not deep-fried, in Hartselle's school cafeterias.
"Tater tots are a good alternative because they taste just as good baked as they do fried," White explained. "However, it's a challenge to find a way to bake or steam fries so that they still taste good. It would kill our lunch program if the kids didn't like the food, and we want the kids to eat meals from the cafeterias because we know they are nutritious."
White said Hartselle High School will also begin a new nutrition breakfast program at Hartselle High School this fall, a program she hopes to implement at the junior high in the near future.
"A link between students eating a nutritious breakfast and making good grades has been proven," White said. "Breakfast is already served at each elementary school. We thought it was important for high school students to be offered a good breakfast instead of stopping on the way to school for a candy bar and a soda."