LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The obesity rate has been increasing around the country. Now, stricter federal guidelines for school meals have been put into place for public schools to follow, intended to make the meals healthier.
It’s a challenge the Jefferson County School District has been trying to improve for several years.
“This is a chicken fajita wrap prepared with USDA fajita strips,” Julia Bausher, director of Nurtition Services for Jefferson County Public Schools, said as she took us through the kitchen at Eisenhower Elementary School. “That’s a whole grain wrap with some reduced fat cheese. These are some salads that have been prepared in our nutritious service center. That is a locally grown cherry tomato grown from Courtney Farms in Shelby County.”
JCPS is one of thousands of school districts across the country implementing healthier meals in their schools. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new list, ranking Kentucky the 10th unhealthiest state in the U.S.
“Feeding kids is a special privilege and very important,” Bausher said. “We all know we’ve got an epidemic going on among our kids and it is critical that we change the way they eat and the way we all eat.”
Bausher said the challenge is to incorporate the new federal guidelines in to the menu for student meals in the district.
“We have to offer dark green leafy vegetables, dark orange and red vegetables, a starchy vegetable and a legume every week,” Bausher said.
That means less trans fat, sodium and calories in meals - food that is critical to the 64 percent of JCPS students who are eligible for reduced or free meals.
“Our meals are critical,” Bausher said. “It’s important that we offer them the best nutrition that we can. It’s also in important we offer items that they’re comfortable with. For many of the kids, it might be the last meal of the day before they come back for breakfast.”