Healthy eating habits need to start early

Nov 05, 2013

It’s difficult — sometimes nearly impossible to make children eat their vegetables. Many would rather have pizza and French fries every day than to eat a healthy green salad or munch on an apple. But as adults we know what is best for our children and our schools know what is best for our students.

With the growing rate of obesity and sedentary lifestyle in the country, it is more important than ever to start children out young with healthy eating habits that they will hopefully carry on later in life. This is easier said than done, obviously.

It is the challenge that our school cafeterias have taken on now that new federal nutrition requirements have become more stringent. In order to get reimbursed for meals, the schools must be able to show that they are serving required amounts of vegetables, fruits and whole grain.

And while Haywood County Schools are meeting the new challenge, it doesn’t mean the kids are biting. They have to put it on their plates but from our recent observations in middle school cafeteria, many of the “healthier” foods end up in the trash.

Not only do we need to serve students healthy foods, we need to educate them on why it is important to stay away from processed and vending machine foods. Secondly, we need to somehow cut down on the food waste. There is nothing more problematic than for students to be throwing good food in the garbage when so many people go hungry every day. If you don’t want your apple, give it to someone who will eat it.

We applaud the schools for finding creative ways to cook so students are eating healthy and tasty food — like pizza with whole grain crust and low-fat cheese. We understand how difficult it must be to make healthy and delicious food for thousands of students at one time.

If you are paying for your child’s lunch at school everyday, we encourage you to talk to your child about the importance of a balanced meal each day and ask them not to waste their food at school.

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