Local lunchroom food to be revamped

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Healthier pizza is on the way to your child's school lunch-line. Not only that--they'll start seeing more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk, too.

It's all part of some new guidelines First Lady Michelle Obama and the agriculture secretary unveiled to help decrease childhood obesity nationwide.

And Alabama is already ahead of the curve.

"Chicken, carrots, greens."

These are foods Damante Jones already sees in his serving line at Montgomery's Peter Crump Elementary school. But he may start seeing a few more healthy options when new federal regulations are introduced.

"The changes that are being made are very proactive," says June Barrett, Administrator of Alabama Department of Education School Programs.

She's thankful for the national push to decrease childhood obesity. She says Alabama schools started making strides years ago.

"Tortilla shells are already whole grain products, we have hamburgers and hot dog buns that are already whole grain products."

Under the new rules, meals will have calorie caps, sodium will be reduced over a 10 year period, and all flavored milks must be non-fat.

Damante's mom Sandra agrees with the changes.

"So many of our kids are obese and they're not getting the proper foods, so if they can get it at school, that's a good start."

"Students come out to our farm, and run through what we call our Seed to Plate program where they learn about growing food, harvesting that food and getting excited about eating fresh, locally produced food," says Edwin Marty.

He runs the downtown Montgomery Urban Farm and says just putting good food on kids' plates may not be the only answer.

That's why he partnered with the Montgomery Public school system offering field trips to local children.

"What we've seen and research supports is that if children participate in the growing process of fresh fruits and vegetables either through a school garden or a community garden, or a home garden, or at a place like this...an urban garden, they're going to be much more interested in trying that food."

Marty says there are five schools in Montgomery that have gardens on site. He hopes to incorporate more local food into lunchrooms soon.

He's also working to enforce new local policies to increase healthy options even more than federal regulations require.

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