Waffle sticks and syrup…
Corn dog and seasoned fries…
Cheeseburger with tater tots…
Snickers bars, Milky Ways, ice cream and malt cups…
Welcome to your child’s school cafeteria.
These are just some of the items KCPT discovered on the menu in school lunchrooms across the metro.
In 2007, Kansas and Missouri earned failing grades on a National School Foods Report Card issued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. But at a time of rising childhood obesity, why are school lunchrooms offering what some critics claim is “carnival food?”
In this installment of Generation XL, KCPT takes on “The Food Fight in the School Cafeteria.” Host Nick Haines explores the obstacles and challenges facing schools and brings together food service directors, legislators, educators, lobbyists and health experts in a search for solutions.
While a number of studies show school lunches are too high in artery clogging fats and cholesterol, budget pressures complicate efforts to provide nutritious meals. School food service programs, once regular line items in local school budgets, now must often be completely self-supporting and cover costs of food, labor, and other expenses, such as equipment, utilities, and trash removal.
Cash-strapped school districts say it’s tough to offer the more expensive healthful items without additional funds. One school district food director tells KCPT that it can cost them twice as much to provide a high-fiber, low-fat veggie burger than a high-fat, fiber-free hamburger. And too often, food staff claim, even when healthier foods are served; they end up in the garbage can as kids opt for the sloppy joe and fries instead.
Generation XL panel in the KCPT studio
Is there a way of making school food healthier and appealing to our kids?
Generation XL showcases one area school that is cutting the fat and calories and offering healthy fare kids do want to eat. But at what price? And do schools have to sacrifice other important services to cover the costs?
Shelly Summar, MSEd, RD, LD, Children’s Mercy Hospital
CYNTHIA SCHRADER, Leavenworth School
DIANE SMITH, Food Service Consultant
GRENNAN SIMS, RD, Nutrition Education Coordinator, Hickman Mills School District
LIZ NORD, Parent Advocate for real food in schools
JANINE KEMPKER, Principal, Anthony Elementary / Leavenworth, KS
JILL SILVA, Food Editor, Kansas City Star
JODI MACKEY, Director, Child Nutrition and Wellness
KATIE BROWN, Ed.D., RD, LD, Show-Me Food & Nutrition Services, Inc. Vice President
DR. BLAKE WILLIAMSON, VP &Senior Medical Director, BCBS
KIERSTEN FIRQUAIN “Chef K”, InHome Bistro
CANDANCE AYERS, Kansas Health Institute
KIM WERNING, RD, Director of Nutrition Services, North Kansas City School District
TONY SPARKS, Chartwells
TAKE OUR ONLINE POLL
KCPT joins with The Star’s new Mom2Mom blog to gauge your views on school cafeterias.
Production Funding for Generation XL provided by: