, Muskogee, OK


May 1, 2013

Decision cut healthy choices

Not everyone loves spinach.

Not everyone loves broccoli, cauliflower or carrots.

There are some that won’t even give peas a chance.

But given a wide choice of fruits or vegetables, most will find something healthy they like to eat.

That’s the unfortunate part of a decision Muskogee Public Schools were forced to make recently.

MPS closed the food bars at all MPS elementary schools and for elementary school children at the Rougher Alternative Academy.

MPS cited federal regulations and rising costs to eliminate the bars, which had various choices of vegetables.

Federal nutrition regulations state schools are to put vegetables on every tray for elementary school students and not offer them as options.

The regulation sounds benign enough. It would seem to ensure students receive a minimum amount of vegetables and not leave it up to the student.

If the students do not like what is put in front of them, they won’t eat it.

However, given a wide range of choices many students will find something healthy to eat.

It seems as if the food bars would have the greatest chance to ensure most students will improve their diet through choice.

Many of our students in Muskogee are from poorer backgrounds.

Around 80 percent of MPS students benefit from the free or reduced-price lunches.

That would seem to indicate that many of those students are receiving their best meal of the day at school.

If that’s the case, students need a bigger variety in order to hope they get a healthy diet.

The cost of the food bars is great.

But the price of our children growing up with unhealthy habits could cost us more in health care  later in life.

Many parents will say that they are lucky to find a vegetable that their children enjoy to eat.

The food bars were the best chance for students to find something healthy they will actually eat.

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