No-fry zones in Deer Valley Unified School District

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by Brandy Aguilar, Special Projects

azfamily.com

Posted on September 8, 2011 at 1:08 PM

PHOENIX -- The lunchroom days of foods full of fat and salt may be over in one Valley school district. School officials want to make a dent in the rising childhood obesity rate, and they plan to do it one tater tot at a time.

“I’ve been on the fence every year because our customers prefer the fried foods, the high school students,” Food and Nutrition District Manager Geoff Habgood said.

There will be no more fried foods in the Deer Valley Unified School District. While this is not new for K-though-eight kids, Habgood said it’s now for students at all of the five high schools.

“It’s a little disappointing because the food is not as good, but it's good for your health and stuff,” said Joel Mintz, a senior at Mountain Ridge High School.

In addition to making all of the high schools a no-fry zone, the district is also testing out a new fruit and salad bar at Mountain Ridge.

“They're used to eating the fruits and vegetables, K through eight,” Habgood said. “When they get to high school, they're not seeing it. So we're trying to get that going."

The K-through-eight students, like those at Sierra Verde Elementary School, have had access to a fruit and salad bar for years.

“I think it's a good choice for me to know, like it's always there when I need it,” said Sophia Fox, an eighth grader at Sierra Verde.

“We get about 50-percent participation at our fresh fruit and salad bar,” Habgood said. “So we'll see about 400 kids today here at this school and a couple hundred will go get cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and mixed lettuce.”

These are healthful moves designed to cut down on the rising obesity rates in kids.

According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey about 12.5 million young people in the U.S. fit into that category.

“I think the older age is one to really target because we do see disease risk hitting much younger, so diabetes is on the rise for that teenage population,” Patti Milligan said.

Milligan is the director of nutrition at Tignum, a consulting group that specializes in high performance.

“In one particular meal, you'll go from a meal that is close to 69 percent fat down to what the guidelines are to have a third of fat,” Milligan said. “You're going to see in four to five tablespoons of reduced sugar in one particular lunch.”

One student believes similar healthful changes should also be made in the home.

“I think the parents should start buying healthier foods, like switch to whole grain and stuff because then their kids would eat healthier and try the salad bar,” said Sarah Wilson, a senior at Mountain Ridge High School.

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