Longview ISD helping kids adapt to healthier menu items - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Longview ISD helping kids adapt to healthier menu items

One East Texas school district says they've found success in helping students adapt to a healthier lifestyle. (Source: KLTV) One East Texas school district says they've found success in helping students adapt to a healthier lifestyle. (Source: KLTV)
Officials hope the habits students are picking up in the lunch line will carry over after the end of the school day. (Source: KLTV) Officials hope the habits students are picking up in the lunch line will carry over after the end of the school day. (Source: KLTV)
LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) -

Schools nationwide have adjusted their breakfast and lunch menus to meet government health guidelines.

But in many districts across the nation, students are rejecting menu items with less sodium and refusing whole grains. Often, fruits and vegetables end up in the trash.

One East Texas school district says they've found success in helping students adapt to a healthier lifestyle.

"There was some resistance at first but we have great participation," said Phyllis Dozier, director of child nutrition for Longview Independent School District.

Officials said first-graders at Hudson PEP Elementary weren't always big fans of salad.

"Eventually, they are going to try it and discover that they do like it," Dozier said.

As the guidelines on what districts can serve students for breakfast and lunch continue to change, some students said they aren't thrilled to try healthier options.

"They have to take it. It's there if they don't they throw it away and we just hope the next day there'll be something there they want to try," said Gina Franklin, kitchen manager at the elementary school.

Dozier said they tried to keep their student's taste buds in mind when finding food options that are lower in sodium and adding whole grains to their menus.

"It took some time and pizza was one of those things - that's kids' favorite - and that was one of those thing we had to work at to find a pizza crust that was whole grain that the kids would like," Dozier said.

District officials said they keep track of what foods are popular and unpopular among students.

In some cases, they phase out menu options that just don't click.

"If it's just not getting a good response, I try to keep up with those things, and hopefully, work in more things that I know they are going to like and make it more of a positive option," Franklin said.

As for getting students to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, Dozier said that just took repetition.

"We started giving it to them more often than we had been in the past. So at first kids didn't like salad - the elementary children - but they have gotten to where they like salad," she said.

Officials hope the habits students are picking up in the lunch line will carry over after the end of the school day.

The district said nothing they serve is deep fried and they've been able to add options like orange chicken and sweet potato fries to their menu.

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