When a group of elementary school students was asked what their favorite part of school lunch was, one raised his hand and proudly proclaimed "Broccoli!" at Tuesday.
Yes, you read that right. An effort by the to encourage healthier eating habits and more physical activity seems to have caught on. Thirteen Rockwood elementary schools were awarded for their efforts as part of the HealthierUS Schools Challenge. The Rockwood schools were the first in Missouri to be awarded in the program, which has been around since 2005.
The HealthierUS Schools Challenge, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recognizes schools that have improved the quality of the food served in cafeterias, provide nutrition education and allot adequate time for physical activity through PE classes and recess.
"They have to improve the quality of lunches by offering more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes," said Darlene Barnes, regional administrator of Food and Nutrition Service with the USDA.
Kristin Caravelli, the district's dietician, said meeting that requirement didn't require many changes. "We tried new things, considered how to get beans on the menus more, for example," she said. In some cases, such as adding more whole grains, kids hardly notice the difference, Barnes said.
Rockwood elementary schools also have more than 200 minutes of physical activity time built into their schedule between PE classes and recess. Students go to PE classes four days a week and attend a health class once a week. There, they learn about nutrition.
Twelve Rockwood elementary schools earned the bronze distinction. Those schools are: , , Babler, Blevins, Geggie, Green Pines, Pond, Ridge Meadows, Stanton, Uthoff Valley, Westridge and Woerther elementary schools.
earned the silver distinction because more students eat school lunch on average at the school. Schools awarded as part of the HealthierUS Schools Challenge agree to meet the criteria for four years following their award.