LINDALE/TYLER, TX (KLTV) - School lunches have been under fire - most recently by retired military officers who say high-calorie foods are making American kids too fat to fight. They are urging Congress to pass a bill that could drastically change kids' eating habits.
Some East Texas dieticians and cafeteria workers say many Texas schools are one step ahead of the game.
Fried foods and fattening sauces - that may be what many of you remember from eating in school cafeterias, but Laurie Krueger with Lindale ISD says, now, entrees must also be served with fruits and veggies. That is because Texas public schools that receive federal funding were required to adopt a strict nutrition policy.
"That changed a lot of things in the way we serve, starting with the amount of french fries - that was the biggest change," said Krueger.
Now, students can only receive three ounces of fries a serving, and there are vending restrictions, too.
"Absolutely no more carbonated beverages," said Krueger. "This was the first year that that has happened."
Dietician Erin Langewisch says that is promising news, but warns sugars still sneak in.
"A lot of people think fruit juice is healthy and it's really no better than a coke," explained Langewisch.
But, they both agree the awareness level is rising.
"A good thing out of this is the food manufacturers are responding to our needs," said Krueger.
Like a new chicken corn dog with whole grain that contains half the fat. But, Krueger admits a lot of students still prefer fattier foods and it is going to take parents preparing healthier dinners.
"It's really going to take all of us to put this together and change the kids eating habits," said Krueger.
"I think probably what's leading to our bigger issues now is the greater lack of physical activity that our kids have," said Langewisch.
If passed, the bill would infuse $4,500,000,000 into nutrition programs and provide more employee training over the next 10 years.
"It could be a sweeping change and I'm eager to see what's going to become of this," said Krueger.
The school lunch bill is awaiting a final Senate vote.