De Soto students create healthier options for cafeteria food - KCTV5

De Soto students create healthier options for cafeteria food

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DE SOTO, KS (KCTV) -

If anyone has a picky eater at home, they know it is a chore to get them to eat their fruits and veggies.

Imagine how schools feel now that they have new government-regulated lunches where children are encouraged to put more of the healthy items on their trays.

One school district is disguising healthy eating with a little friendly competition.

Schools have had to make big changes in their menus to meet the Healthy Hunger Free Act of 2010.

One nutritionist in De Soto, KS, wanted to poll her students to see if they liked the changes and find out what they would do differently.

She challenged the students and came out teaching them and herself a lesson for life.

Fractions used to be the focus in one fifth-grade math classroom. But a few weeks ago, students at Starside Elementary School in De Soto were crunching calories.

"We had to take away and add stuff because it had too much calories and went over the calorie limit," student Brayden Roellchen said.

It is something they have never thought to do before until Director of Student Nutrition Amy Droegemeier came to them and other classes district-wide with a challenge

"We went to each school and selected randomly one classroom of fourth and fifth graders to plan their own school lunch," Droegemeier said.

The lunch had to fit USDA guidelines.

They had to represent each food group, stay within calorie and budget limits and everyone had to agree.

Droegemeier said the voting the students did in their classrooms got a little heated sometimes.

"It took quite a while, but we eventually argued a lot and figured it out," Roellchen said.

The class came up with chicken and un-fried rice, watermelon and pickle spears.

The challenge then shaped into a competition.

"The classroom who has the most district wide participation for their lunch will win a prize that their classroom selects," Droegemeier said.

The students admit it was a fun way to learn healthy eating habits, and it's working.

"It makes me want to have a salad more," student Brittney Wolters said.

Droegemeier said she learned a thing or two also.

Watermelon and strawberries will appear on the menu more because it was very popular with the kids. It made it on three of seven student designed menus.

Droegemeier also found that students have open minds and are willing to try new things.

One class chose bamboo shoots as a vegetable and another class chose prickly pear cactus. Students district-wide will get to try it, many for the first time, on Wednesday.

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