The USDA proposed new rules recently to upgrade the nutritional standards for school meals. But Texas is actually one of the leaders in promoting healthy foods in schools. The WFISD schools are offering non-fried foods, whole grain products, and fresh fruit daily. They are also planning on expanding their menu for the next school year.
Child obesity is a growing epidemic in the U.S., but thanks to the Texas Public School Nutrition guidelines many schools are already up to date with the USDA newly proposed standards. WFISD Child Nutrition Director Kathy Bolton says, "The Wichita Falls ISD Child Nutrition Department follows the Texas Public School Nutrition Policy which is stricter than the USDA guidelines, so we're kind of a forefront leader in that area".
The schools offer whole grain pizza, bread, hamburger buns, and muffins to name a few. And one-percent milk as well as fat-free chocolate milk. A lot of their meats are turkey based. Bolton says, "In our vending machines what we have currently available are baked chips, water, Gatorade, a breakfast bar, and on various locations a fat free brownie".
The WFISD even has enriched wheat flour breading for its nuggets and fat free gravy. Next school year, leaders are planning to add even more vegetables to the menu like broccoli and cauliflower. A big change from just a few years ago when soft drinks, candy, and fried foods were a lunchtime staple. Bolton says, "My hopes are that the kids pick it up and get healthier".
The Children's Food Environment State Indicator report for this year says, "With the high prevalence of childhood obesity in the U.S., supporting healthy food environments is a key strategy to reach the public health goals of reducing childhood obesity and improving nutrition". Low nutrient foods contribute to weight gain. The USDA is trying to update the nutritional standards to the ones like WFISD at a national level.