Keeping students healthy with school lunches

By Jillian Marshall

August 29, 2013 Updated Aug 30, 2013 at 7:03 AM EST

Endicott, NY (WBNG Binghamton) While some schools nationwide are dropping out of the national healthy school lunch program spearheaded by Michelle Obama, area districts are sticking with federal guidelines when it comes to healthy food in local lunchrooms.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 started in schools in the fall of 2012. This year, some schools have dropped the program because students are turning up their nose at the healthy choices, and the school districts say they're losing money.

The act, which was initiated by Michelle Obama, is an effort to give kids across the country healthy options while eating at school, and gives districts specific guidelines to follow.

Broome-Tioga BOCES plans the breakfast and lunch menus for 15 school districts across the Southern Tier and is opting to stay in the program.

Broome-Tioga BOCES Registered Dietitian Julie Tucker says it's an easy transition because they have been slowly adding healthy options to their menu.

When Tucker wants to add a new, healthy item to the menu, she lets the students taste test the foods to make sure they will enjoy it.

"We go out into the schools and we test them with the students to see what they think," Tucker said. "They are ultimately eating the food."

New items students will see on the menu this year are hummus and Lupo's spiedies.

Tucker says there are also kid-approved foods on the menu -- but with a healthy twist -- like whole grain pizza.

According to Tucker, every school that takes part in the Broome-Tioga BOCES program will have vegetable and fruit choices everyday.

Broome-Tioga BOCES is working toward getting the Farm to School Grant, which will help the districts connect with local farmers and teach kids how their food is grown.

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