Rural, low-income kids not eating healthy - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Rural, low-income kids not eating healthy

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HANNIBAL, Mo. (WGEM) -

A new study shows kids living in rural, low-income areas aren't getting enough fruits and vegetables. However, researchers say it's possible to change poor eating habits using community and school based programs.

The lunch staff at Mark Twain Elementary are constantly having to refill fruit and vegetable trays in the lunch line, making sure each student walks away with some sort of healthy item.

From grapes and oranges to broccoli and carrots, kids say they like having options.

"I usually get broccoli for vegetables and for fruit sometimes I get peaches," said Dawson Behl, student.

"They give us oranges, broccoli, cauliflower, celery and all kinds of vegetables," said Gracey Whittaker, student.

A pro-active step in a school where officials say 60% of the students are on the Free and Reduced Meal program.

"We try and tell the children what they can and can't have, but we encourage them to take fruits and vegetables," Cafeteria Coordinator Melanie Brown said.

Brown said the earlier schools start educating students about healthy eating habits, the more likely they are to follow that into their teen years.

"I think that the kindergartners and first graders actually eat better than the older children," Brown said. "I think they've started and they're used to doing it and they see the choices and they're eating a lot better."

Brown said putting more fruits and vegetables in the lunch line is even leading kids to venture out and try other kids of healthy foods.

"These kids like salads, and they'll ask for salads and we try to have those available every day," Brown said.

With the cost of groceries on the rise, Brown said they sometimes have to pick and choose which fruits and vegetables they can serve. But, she said they always make sure to have some sort of healthy option for students.

 

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