Healthier School Lunches

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- With the obesity rate on the rise in the U.S., a local school district is trying to give students healthier options when sitting down for lunch.

"Cookies or more junk food or more candy."

That's what Jefferson High School freshman Lidavia Joice would eat for lunch if she had her choice, but District 205 is trying to wean students off junk food by switching to a healthier menu.

The district just finished implementing new state guidelines that include serving more fruits and vegetables and a variety of colors.

Rockford Public Schools started shifting to healthier lunches a few years ago, with the use of whole grains. That's also when they got rid of Flamin' Hot Cheetos, and the school trend recently put Rockford in the national spotlight on Good Morning America; Dist. 205 Superintendent Dr. Robert Willis was interviewed as part of their story.

"If children want to bring in snacks that are high in fat, high in calories, that's their choice they can do that. But we're not going to be providing those kinds of foods,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Willis.

RPS says a student’s lunch tray should have fruits, vegetables, grains and protein, which is exactly what we saw when we stopped by Jefferson High School during lunch.

"You want to give them a good meal while they're here, to sustain them so they're focusing on the lesson you're giving them in class versus thinking about their stomachs grumbling because they're hungry,” said Renita Weiskircher, Director of Nutrition Services.

While the district is trying to be healthier, it still has a la carte items for sale that aren't the healthiest, like cheese fries and muffins. The district also serves pizza on a regular basis, some made with a whole grain crust and baked chip, so it seems they're taking some steps to be a little healthier.

There are fewer a la carte options at the elementary school level, meaning that younger students aren't exposed to as much junk food.

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