The Ledger sought the advice of two district school nurses to answer a few key questions regarding childhood obesity and changes in school lunches.
Mexico Public School District Head Nurse Diane Melahn said, "We have gone to salad bar every Wednesday, fresh fruits and vegetables are offered every day and we are following the new national school lunch program guidelines. More nutritional snacks have been stocked in our snack bar and calorie information is on all sodas and snacks already."
She said district-wide, Mexico schools also offer water, juice and Gatorade as alternatives to soft drinks. The community, she said, also advertises YMCA activities, city walking trails, and before- and after-school elementary walking programs that are quite popular.
Nurse Lee Ann Meador from Community R-6 School District doesn't believe the Calories Count measure will make a big impact until parents and students know how to understand the information printed on vending machine items.
She thinks a soft drink one or two times a week is "OK," but when children – who need calcium for bone growth development – refuse to drink anything but soft drinks, it causes problems with teeth, bones and weight.
"When a 12-ounce can of soda contains 150 calories and most sodas are oversized to 2-3 times that amount, you can consume a lot of calories by just drinking soda. But, I don't think all students know how to process what that information really means," Meador said.
The R-6 District Strive Group, she said, controls the food vending machines and they try to follow the guidelines of the healthy snacks, trying to provide snacks under 100 calories or under a certain amount of fat grams. The school also sells water and juice.
She believes encouraging after-school sports and activities is a perfect way to keep kids moving and healthy.