Sophia Gregg snacked on a zesty soft taco during her lunch break Friday at Harbor Heights Elementary in Gig Harbor.
That might not sound different than the thousands of other lunches served every day in school cafeterias across the country, but the 11-year-old wasn’t eating a normal school meal.
Sophia and the 600 other kids Harbor Heights, as well as Voyager Elementary, are being served a healthier lunch menu that’s meant to increase fiber, limit salt and suger.
The Peninsula School District is testing out the menu for three weeks, but school officials say it has been such a hit with students, they plan to serve it all next year in its elementary schools.
The healthier menu is part of an $80,000 federal grant that YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties received in 2008 to help prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, arthritis and, of course, childhood obesity.
The effort includes creating programs that create opportunities for physical activity and get residents to start eating healthier.
It comes as other communities and leaders, including First Lady Michelle Obama, are looking for ways to fight childhood obesity.
Peninsula’s healthier lunch menu goes “above and beyond” the standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s standards, said Sid Taylor, Peninsula’s director of child nutrition.
Students won’t find any food that’s processed, excessively sweet or filled with preservatives. The test menu entrées, have included pasta, chicken parmesan and chipotle Sloppy Joes. Students could also pick a deli sandwich. All meals come with vegetables, fruits and milk.
Students won’t find such cafeteria staples as hot dogs, hamburgers, pretzels with cheese, even chocolate milk.
After the first week, the students at both Peninsula schools are giving the test menu five out of five stars.
“I hope they keep it,” Sophia said about the menu Friday. Her lunch tray also had salad and peaches.
Read more about this story in Saturday’s News Tribune