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New School Menus Feature Healthier Meals

Aired 8/29/12 on KPBS News.

School menus are getting revamped across San Diego County thanks to federal push for healthier meals.

In accordance with federal regulations geared toward getting children and adolescents healthier, more nutritional meals are making their way into San Diego Unified schools. And school-cafeteria menus are getting revamped across San Diego County.

At Pacific Beach Middle School, students and school officials were on hand for a tasting of new healthier menu items making their debut on Sept. 4th when San Diego Unified students head back to school.

The new changes include serving more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as serving foods that have zero trans fat and less salt.

Students who tried the new meals gave them high marks. Jason Peugh is a senior at Point Loma High School.

"I like the new menu I think it tastes really good," he said. "We just taste-tested some of it and just any excuse to have people eating healthier isn’t really a bad thing; there’s nothing but positives, really."

Emery Reyna is an eighthgrader at Pacific Beach Middle School

"I think it’s a great beginning for a lot of students, to be able to start the new year right and healthy," she said.

The addition of the new food items are a result of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. Signed into law by President Obama in 2010 and in line with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative, the act authorizes federal funding and policies for more nutritional school meals.

San Diego Unified Superintendent Bill Kowba said providing nutritional meals at school can lead to healthier students both physically and academically.

"Kids come ready to learn, to understand, if they’re physically ready and mentally ready," Kowba said. "And that means they come with well-balanced nutritional meals

Gary Petill, Director of Food and Nutritional Services for San Diego Unified School District, said it's never too young to learn healthy eating habits..

"Children really need to realize and learn their lifelong habits now at a very young age in order for them to be healthy adults," Petill said.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 12.5 million children and adolescents in the United States are obese.

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