Jenison 5th graders learn to debate and eat healthier

Posted at 7:02 PM, Dec 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-10 19:02:24-05

JENISON, Mich. -- Meagen Russ’ 5th graders at Bauerwood Elementary School in Jenison are debating whether the U.S. government should tell their cafeteria what they can prepare for kids’ lunches.

These 10- and 11-year-olds spent weeks researching the details of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, spearheaded by first lady Michelle Obama.

The regulations have kids eating more whole grains and less sugar, sodium and fat.  Before the debate, 18 kids of the 23 thought the U.S. government had no right enforcing these requirements.  After the debate, that number fell to 17.

According to the cafeteria staff, the kids have adapted well to the changes. Trina Fernandez said with most of the changes, “you can’t even taste the difference.  The corn dogs, they’re now whole grain breading and use a turkey dog, and the kids love them.”

The biggest problems with the act have just risen this school year, after the Smart Snacks guidelines went into effect this summer.  Kids no longer can buy popcorn or doughnuts before or during school, even at the expense of fundraising.

Often, sales like buying a 75 cent doughnut would help kids afford 6th grade camp, but with these new restrictions, it’s no longer allowed.