Raleigh, N.C. — The Wake County Public School System is providing extra fruits and vegetables in student lunches as part of its efforts to meet tougher federal nutrition standards.
Area school cafeterias also are placing calorie limits on lunches appropriate to students' ages, have cut the fat and sodium in foods and are using more whole-grain items, such as hot dog buns.
Cafeterias also are using more North Carolina produce, and instead of two servings of fruits and vegetables on the lunch line, students now get four – at no extra charge.
"That dilemma of whether I choose this fruit or that fruit has gone away. This year, you just get them both," said Marilyn Moody, senior director of Child Nutrition Services for the school district.
Part of the challenge of getting students to eat fruits and vegetables is to make it easy for them. So, Moody said, officials have packaged items in kid-friendly containers.
"By seeing it and being exposed to it more often, they're more likely to start trying it," she said. "That's our goal – to get them to try new things."
Brewer Best, a second-grader at Combs Elementary School in Raleigh, said she loads up on vegetables at lunch almost every day.
"I like that we have fruits and vegetables because I think it's a better and healthier choice," Brewer said as she ate some green beans.
Her father also appreciates the extra produce she's getting.
"It makes me feel a lot better knowing that, when she goes off to school and is buying lunch, the nutritional value's there," Roman Best said.