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Durham Students Eating Up Healthy Lunches, Lessons

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DURHAM, N.C. — Compared to cheeseburgers, pizza and tater tots, getting students to eat steamed vegetables and meatless sloppy Joes might sound impossible.

Even people at Durham's

Central Park School

were skeptical when a parent made the suggestion. To everyone's surprise, it is working.

The only thing more surprising than steamed broccoli and macaroni and soy cheese is the fact that the students are cleaning their plates.

"Broccoli is a big hit," said Kitty Rosati, a registered dietitian. "The children go for seconds and thirds."

Every Tuesday, Rosati serves up a healthy lunch to students in kindergarten through second grade at the Durham charter school.

As the mother of a second-grader, Rosati wants to show the children the importance of eating healthy food at a young age.

"Two-thirds of overweight children become overweight adults," she said.

Chef J.R. Soviero with Durham's Rice Diet program prepares the food -- everything from spinach lasagna to vegetarian sloppy Joes.

"I played a little trick on them one day and they didn't know it wasn't hamburger. So it taught them that so much of what they don't like is in their head," Rosati said.

The healthy lunches are already a big hit. While the students eat, Rosati talks about the importance of eating fruits, vegetables and foods rich in calcium.

"If you drink a lot of soda it will take your bones away," she told them.

With students getting the message loud and clear, Rosati said she cannot help but be passionate.

"It would take a team of wild horses to discourage me from doing this at this point," she said.

And maybe even more to take the plates away from these kids!

Because it is a charter school, Central Park School has more flexibility in meal planning. On the days meals are not served students bring their lunches. Sugary drinks and snacks are not allowed.


Terry Cantrell, Photographer
Andrea Moody, Producer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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