School lunches changing in Mississippi

NESBIT, Miss. — Laura Bloom looked at what schools have always generally served for lunch, and saw nothing but empty calories.

”I see pizza, fast food, processed foods and those type of things.”

But as school begins in Mississippi, that’s going to change.

This year, students will find more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

”We’re gonna try to do that by offering more fresh fruits and vegetables, also this year one hundred percent of the ingredients have to be whole grain,” said Cynthia Coleman with DeSoto Schools.

She also says the federal government has cut the amount of salt they can serve.

One of the biggest challenges schools face is serving food that southerners want to eat. That usually means lots of fat and salt, but experts say you can get the same impact with spices.

Registered Dietitian Coleman aims to get students to think about fresh food the way they do about junk food, ”We’re tying to show them what a healthy meal would look like, what we’re trying to find some balance.”

She says that balance includes what’s healthy, but also what students like to eat.

Coleman also says it’s catching on, ”I feel like with the high school students we’re seen an increase in consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, so I feel like we’re making inroads.”

Even younger students have started to respond.

Bloom says the same plan worked on her son, ”As he got older, he eats all the whole grains now so the pattern was established.”

That’s exactly what schools hope to do.

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