ETX students plead with First Lady for help - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

ETX students plead with First Lady for help with school lunches


The First Lady's suggestions on school lunches have one East Texas student trying to do something about it. 

No more fried foods and sweet treats. Now, students can choose between sides like butternut squash, fresh fruit or a garden salad. 

These mandates come from the federal food/ nutrition program guidelines and requirements.

"It's hard to fix something tasty. No salt, no butter no grease, nothing fried," said Harmony ISD superintendent Jed Whitaker. 

And soft drinks? Out of the question.

The school has a Dr. Pepper machine right outside of the cafeteria, but you won't find a single Dr. Pepper for sale. 

"We sell their products, but there's a limit on carbonation, there's a limit on sugar content. Twenty percent of the drinks can have a certain sugar content the others can have none," Whitaker said. 

There are also mandates on calorie intake. 

Students in grades pre-kindergarten to fifth grade can have a maximum of 550-650 calories daily and a maximum of 8-10 oz. of meat per week. The sodium target for students in those age groups is 1230 mg. Students in grades six through eight can have a maximum of 600-700 calories daily and 8-10 oz. of meat per week. High school students can have a maximum of 750-850 calories on a daily basis and 10-12 oz. of meat per week. 
7th grader Maddie Ebert is so tired of it that she wrote a letter to First Lady Michelle Obama. 

She said because of the lack of options, many kids bring lunches packed with junk food. 

"We've had about a 20 percent drop off in kids participating in the school lunch program and bringing their lunch, which is really counterproductive to what is trying to be accomplished," Whitaker said. 

And those kids who are buying their lunch? Maddie said, "they just don't eat it. They throw most of it away."

At the end of lunch, students' trays had untouched grapes, strawberries, and salads that ended up filling the garbage cans instead of stomachs. It's something Maddie wants Mrs. Obama to see. 

"She should come eat our food and see how hungry she is by the end of the day and like give us more options to eat because we don't have that much anymore. I'm 13, I think we can make our own eating decision."

She said healthy suggestions are appreciated, but so are options.

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