Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

November 9, 2012

Iowa's public school students eating healthier compared to rest of country

By Michael Schaffer - Managing editor
Daily Iowegian

CENTERVILLE — Iowa's public school students for the most part are eating healthier than other public education students in the United States, according to a report released in October by Kids' Safe & Healthful Foods Project.

Iowa's secondary public schools have come a long way in providing its students with more healthier food to eat. By implication so have schools in Appanoose County.

For the month of November, students at Centerville High School have several opportunities to eat healthier. November's lunch menu offered students a choice of fruit, vegetable or both each day of the week.

The school's menu reflects new United States Department of Agriculture school lunch guidelines.

Holly Hutton, CHS food service, responding by email, wrote they do have vending machines but they are not operated by food service.

Moravia Community School District menu for November offers students fruit and juice for breakfast. A salad bar is offered everyday for lunch plus a majority of days a side serving of vegetables like corn, carrots, green beans, spinach and peas are available.

Moravia food service representatives declined to comment for this story.

The Moulton-Udell school lunch menu every day for November offers students at least one serving of fruit and one serving of vegetable.

Moulton-Udell school students do have access to three vending machines, Belinda Potter, food service director said. The machines are not located in the school cafeteria and are operated by school groups.

Potter said the items that are sold in the vending machines have to meet the Healthy Kids Act. One machine is operated by the FFA and contains milk and juices, she said.

From 2002-2010 Iowa's secondary schools that sell chocolate candy dropped from 62.7 percent to 17.5 percent ranking the state 22nd in the country; schools that sell other kinds of candy dropped from 63.3 percent to 22.2 percent ranking the state 20th in the nation; and schools that sell salty snacks dropped from 66.4 percent to 24.4 percent ranking Iowa 21st in the country.

The report's findings point out one area where Iowa schools have slipped in providing  the most healthy option to its students.

For example, Iowa's secondary public schools that allowed students to purchase fruits (not fruit juice) was 36.4 percent in 2008, which ranked Iowa 19th in the nation. In 2010, that percentage dropped to 31.6 percent, ranking Iowa 33rd in the country.

The percentage of Iowa secondary schools that allowed students to purchase non-fried vegetables (not vegetable juice) in 2008 was 19.5 percent, ranking Iowa 33rd in the nation. In 2010, Iowa's secondary schools came in at 14.9 percent ranking the state 18th in the nation.

The report recommends the USDA "establish nutrition standards for all snack foods sold regularly on school grounds outside of school meal programs."