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USDA Pushing Fruits and Veggies Into School Lunches, But Will Kids Bite?

(A school cafeteria.  File photo by Jeff Pachoud/ AFP/ Getty Images)

(A school cafeteria. File photo by Jeff Pachoud/ AFP/ Getty Images)

Mike DeNardo Mike DeNardo
Mike DeNardo, a veteran of KYW Newsradio for more than 25 years,...
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By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The new school year brings new federal regulations requiring healthier school lunches.

The newly implemented USDA regulations require a fruit or a vegetable in every school lunch.

Three-quarters of Philadelphia students get their lunches either free or at reduced price, thanks to federal subsidies.

But now, if they don’t take a serving of fruit or vegetable, they’ll have to pay full price.

And if the district doesn’t offer a fruit or veggie, the feds won’t reimburse the district for that meal.

So, the challenge now is getting the kids to eat what’s on their plates, says Sandy Sherman, director of nutrition education for the Philadelphia-based Food Trust.

“It’s all in the messaging,” she says.  “We know that children like fruits and vegetables.  Certainly if it’s pushed on them, it’s not positive.  But if it’s presented with a positive message, with supporting education, there’s a very good chance that students will not just feel they have to take it, but feel it’s positive.”

So, she says, cafeteria staff are being trained to include a side dish of positive reinforcement with lunch, in the hopes that kids will eat those lunchtime veggies and not dump them in the waste bin.

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