Shreveport, LA (KMSS) — According to the USDA’s Bill Ludgwig, the regional director of the department’s Food and Nutrition Services, this isn’t a healthy time for the youth of America. Ludwig explained how dire the situation is, "when we look across America, one in three children are either overweight or obese. It's an epidemic."
That’s something that the United States Department of Agriculture knew needed to change, so they made major changes to school lunches across the country with the 2010 Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act. The act increases the amount of fruits vegetables and whole grains while cutting back on the amount of salt.
At Woodlawn Leadership Academy, students dined on fish sticks, scalloped potatoes, broccoli, and fruit. Those may not seem healthy at first glance, but in this case appearances aren't what they seem. Caddo’s Nutrition Director Deborah Harris explained why. "We have homemade rolls, they're made from whole wheat that's 100% whole grain. Our fish sticks are breaded with the whole grain. They are baked, they're not fried. Our au gratin potatoes, we use low fat cheese. We use skim milk."
Many of these children have grown up in homes where healthy meals aren't the norm.That's part of the reason why many school districts, including Caddo, are simply upgrading ingredients of traditional favorite foods.
These new regulations are law, and according to Ludwig, won't be going away. "This is set in stone. Congress passed the Healthy kids act on a bipartisan basis."
Nutrition experts argue it’s important schools follow this law, because just like an education prepares students for the future, healthy eating habits do the same. Harris has researched studies that have convinced her that "if you're healthy now, then you're less likely to have problems with heart disease, high blood pressure in the future."