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Strong Support in North Dakota for Healthy School Meals

A new poll finds that healthier cafeteria meals are supported by a majority of North Dakota public school parents. Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr.
A new poll finds that healthier cafeteria meals are supported by a majority of North Dakota public school parents. Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr.
June 15, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. - The meals that North Dakota schoolchildren are being served are getting healthier, and a new poll shows that's exactly what a majority of residents across the state want.

The survey by Pew Charitable Trusts finds that 90 percent of both North Dakota public school parents and voters believe that every meal should include fruits and vegetables. The strong support for nutritional standards is something that's been noted firsthand by Lynelle Johnson, the food service director of Williston Public Schools.

"We are providing a really good meal for kids that does meet the guidelines," she said. "We've seen a great response from our parents and we've had really good response from our students K-12, and they enjoy eating lunch and breakfast."

During the school year statewide, more than 100,000 meals are served daily and every single school in North Dakota now has been certified as meeting the national nutrition standards.

In addition to offering fresh fruits and veggies every day, Johnson said they've also made other changes to the menu to make their school meals healthier.

"We've switched to using all whole grains in our meals, and we've also decreased our sodium in our meals," she said. "We've looked for products that have a lower sodium content and we've eliminated a few items that are too high in sodium."

The poll showed that the limiting of salt and the addition of whole grains also are supported by a majority of North Dakotans. Johnson said students are bringing those more nutritious choices home to their families and building lifelong healthy-eating habits.

The poll results are online at pewtrusts.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND