Once pizza and chips is now salad and wheat bread sticks. For the first time in 30 years the USDA made substantial reforms to school lunch and breakfast programs through The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.
"Children eat a lot of the foods that they consume at school and where better to start improve the health of youngsters than in our lunch rooms," says US Congressman, Sanford Bishop.
Bishop and USDA representatives visited Lincoln Elementary to make sure kids are getting their fruits and veggies. Dougherty County school leaders say they are in full compliance.
"What we've learned is our primary schools, the students are doing really well, they really love the fruits and vegetables," says Dougherty County School Nutrition Director, Blaine Allen.
When asked if they liked salads, nearly all of the kindergartners at one lunch table raised their hands. Experts say introducing children to healthy eating, can impact what foods they choose the rest of their lives.
"When you eat salad every day, it gives you energy, and healthy, and strong," says kindergartner, Chloe England.
$14 billion was spent last year providing fresh fruits and vegetables for kids in schools, but officials say the payoff is tremendous.
"We spent about $150 billion in treating obesity related illnesses and diseases so when you think about it the amount that we invest in healthy and nutritious meals, it's far less than what we invest to take care of those obesity related diseases," says Southeast Region Director for Food Nutrition Services, Erin Swanson-Hall.
And the lunch room workers say the more healthy options they offer, the more they see students pick food that is good for them.
Allen says the county is in 100 percent compliance with the new regulations, an achievement that he says is hard to do.
Copyright 2012 WALB. All rights reserved.
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