PUBLISHED: 7:00 PM on Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Sitka schools to improve nutrition of lunches
SITKA - Sitka school children will be eating healthier lunches starting Nov. 3 thanks to new menus influenced by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium's Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska program, Sitka School District and food service vendor NMS, a division of NANA Management Services.

There has been a nationwide effort to improve school lunches, due in large part to rising rates of childhood diabetes and obesity. Improving the nutritional value of food offered at Sitka schools was one of the four priorities to come out of the 2007 Sitka Health Summit. The new school lunch menus are the second major nutrition improvement at Sitka schools since the 2007 Sitka Health Summit. Last year, the school district implemented a healthy vending machine policy.

The new menus will offer healthier choices as a way to improve nutrition. Whole grains will replace white bread, pasta, pizza dough, etc., at least 50 percent of the time, and brown rice will be used instead of white rice at least 50 percent of the time. NMS will offer four choices of fruits and/or vegetables a day - double the National School Lunch Program standard. Milk will be low-fat or fat-free. Sodium, cholesterol, fatty meats and processed foods will be reduced, while fiber will be increased. Salad bars will use Romaine or leaf lettuce instead of iceberg. Salad dressings, sauces and dips will be low-fat or fat-free.

"The Sitka School District has worked effectively with NMS to provide our students with nutritious and filling meals for many years," Sitka Superintendent Steve Bradshaw said. "Together we will strive to provide our students with meals that are not only healthy and filling but also enjoyable to eat."