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Port Arthur schools making healthy changes to lunch menus, National School Lunch Week
PORT ARTHUR- by Haley Bull
School districts across the country are celebrating National School Lunch Week. Locally, the Port Arthur Independent School District is celebrating recognition from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the Healthier U.S. School Challenge.
Nine elementary schools and a Head Start campus in the district received awards last summer for making healthy changes to kids' menus. The same changes are providing students at Memorial High School healthier meal options.
The Port Arthur School District provides free breakfast and lunch to all students in its' schools. Josue Aguilera, a student at Memorial High School, said the free meals are an economic relief for his family.
"There are people like me with the economy, that our parents aren't allowed to get that kind of money for us to get lunch for school," Aguilera said.
Many students are in similar situations as Aguilera.
"It's very important because it makes you wonder what is available to you at home and on the flip side if what's available at home is it truly, you know, nourishing," Tanisha Bodden, a nutritionist for the school district, said.
They're not just free meals, they are healthy meals. Like the elementary schools, the high school is adding more fruits, vegetables, whole grain and low fat options.
"Our chicken nugget is not your average chicken nugget," Bodden said. "We have whole grain on our cicken nugget, verses eating something that you may get from McDonald's."
Bodden said the district is emphasizing portion control and using low fat cheese and meat options.
"These are all gonna add to making the meal more healthy and nutritious," Bodden said.
For Aguilera, there's one Southeast Texas meal he looks forward to eating for lunch.
"Usually I like to eat the gumbo that they serve here on Thursdays and that's like diamonds in the cafeteria," Aguilera said.
The district will be formally recognized next October.