Making healthy lunches

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Selma City Schools receives national award

BY VICTOR INGE

THE SELMA TIMES-JOURNAL

Baked fries, fruit juices and bottled water are the stuff of healthy eating.

Selma City Schools recently won a national award for taking part in a project that fed its 4,200 students in 11 cafeterias healthy meals.

The Selma Nutrition, Exercise and Wellness Study for Students is a partnership between the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the school system.

It’s worked in more ways than just earning kudos from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Children are getting healthy. That’s good news. Alabama ranks second in the nation in obesity. An estimated 26 to 29 percent of Alabamians are fat. At home in Dallas County mortality rates for people with illnesses related to poor eating habits &045; stroke, diabetes and heart disease &045; exceeded state and national rates between 1998 and 2000.

Cafeterias served baked &8220;fries&8221; and mashed potatoes sans salt or butter. Fruit juices and bottled water have replaced carbonated drinks.

Other policies included replacing unhealthy snacks and drinks in vending machines with nutritious options and selecting non-food items to replace the chocolate bars and other snacks used for fundraisers.

The project also modified student recess to include exercise, increased the amount of active time during physical education classes and developed alternative fitness activities for students with medical exemptions.