Elementary school lunch in District 51 getting a makeover this year through a pilot program aimed at getting your kids to make healthier food choices. It’s the first of its kind in the state.
Forget the food pyramid. District 51 is now ready to give students the chance to Go, Slow, or Whoa when it comes to their choice in food each day.
"The idea behind Go, Slow and Whoa, is to make it easy for kids to identify healthy choices in school and the school lunch menu,” says Jennifer Groves of Livewell Mesa County, who helped bring the program to the Western Slope.
The program was started by the U.S. National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute in 2005, and serves as one way to help fight a growing obesity problem in the U.S.
"The obesity rate in children has more than doubled in the last 30 years,” says Groves. “And so this is an initiative to help kids to recognize healthy food choices and to help them start early."
Dan Sharp, director of Food Services in District 51, says he hopes this pilot program will last several years. “Yes, it’s a pilot program. But we hope to continue it. We hope parents and kids embrace it and see the nutritional benefit of it,” says Sharp. "And the most important thing of all is that better fed and nutritionally fed students do perform better academically.”
“Go” foods, like fruits and veggies, are those that kids should choose anytime. “Slow” foods, like waffles and pancakes, less frequently.
And “Whoa” foods like French fries should be picked sparingly.
But it isn't about depriving students
"Surprisingly, did you know that pizza, if made with certain ingredients, can be a “Go” food?” says Sharp. "Most parents or kids wouldn’t think that. But if it’s such as ours, with whole grain dough, along with low fat cheese, that’s considered a “Go” food.”
And the look of the menu won't be the only thing changing this year.
"We are increasing prices,” says Sharp. “But that’s more a result of the last four years. Labor costs and food costs, which are two of our primary costs, have gone up exponentially.”
So expect to pay $2 per meal at the elementary school level, which is $.50 more than last year. This will be the third price increase at District 51 in the past 10 years.
The District also recommends that parents get involved by learning the different food groupings, and working with children when selecting meals.