Students in Sartell high and middle schools will soon be able to figure out how to eat a healthy lunch more easily, after the district and a CentraCare Foundation-sponsored group called Better Living, Exercise and Nutrition Daily (B.L.E.N.D.) announced their innovate sensible eating initiative.
Dave Aeikens at sctimes.com reports on the first school district in Minnesota, and second the United States, to attach NuVal ratings to cafeteria and vending machine food.
Brenda Braulick, director of food service for the Sartell-St. Stephen school district, said:
"We are not here to be the food police. We are here to help students look at the choices and look at the scores and make a decision whether, for their money, to trade up to something that has a higher value nutrition."
This comes at a time when one out of three American children is overweight or obese. The Obama administration had attempted to strengthen the nutritional standards of school meals by implementing the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which aims to improve the quality of meals served to students in the nation's cafeterias.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted that many students get up to half of their daily calories at school, and that new rigorous nutritional standards are imperative.
In the NuVal initiative, food is rated on a scale of 1 to 100. The system originally debuted regionally in 2010 in Coborn's grocery stores.
About 140 items will be marked at the Sartell-St. Stephen schools. And while that only accounts for about 40 percent of the entire menu, the rest will be added every four to six weeks through the end of the year, Braulick said.
The initiative intends to involve students as early as possible, even letting them help create some of the posters and signs.
Some messages use variations of pop songs and pop artists in a humorous effort to relate with young people. For example, one uses a pun on the Lady Gaga song "(I Was) Born This Way" saying "I Like Corn This Way."
B.L.E.N.D. coordinator Jodi Rohe said:
"It complements what you see in retail. Kids aren't coming to school to shop. They are coming to school to learn. It is increasing their awareness of what their options are in al a carte and in vending."