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Students share lunch with USDA official, Browns player

Published: Wed, September 19, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.


John Greco, left, a Cleveland Browns offensive lineman and Boardman native, and Kevin Concannon, the United States Department of Agriculture food and nutrition service undersecretary, eat lunch with Calayla Abron, a seventh-grader at Youngstown’s Wilson Middle School. Concannon joined Wilson students for lunch Tuesday to talk about the new guidelines for school lunches, which require healthier options.




Cousins Zaire and Te’Jhae Glenn, both sixth-graders, are getting used to healthier lunches at Wilson Middle School.

“Sometimes I don’t like to eat them because they look nasty, but the tacos were good,” Zaire explained.

Te’Jhae likes the lunches, preferring this year’s selection to last year’s.

“They taste better,” she said.

Wilson students were joined for lunch Tuesday by Kevin Concannon, the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service undersecretary, and John Greco, Cleveland Browns offensive lineman from Boardman.

Concannon is traveling the country, visiting schools and talking about the USDA’s new school meal standards.

He and Greco ate alongside the students as children and staff collected Greco’s autograph.

Changes, effective this school year, require schools to offer fruits and vegetables as two separate meal components, to offer fruit daily at breakfast and lunch and vegetables daily at lunch, offer more whole grains, offer daily meat or meat alternative at breakfast and provide low-fat and fat-free milk.

Sodium and fat also must be reduced or eliminated.

About 95 percent of city school students qualify for free and reduced lunches under federal guidelines.

Zaire chose a sloppy Joe topped with red peppers and onions, potatoes, grapes and low-fat milk.

Te’Jhae opted for a hot dog, potatoes, juice and low-fat chocolate milk.

Concannon said that like many adults, change doesn’t come easily to children. The healthy alternatives must be introduced slowly to children.

It also helps if schools can find innovative ways to bring the new foods into the school meals.

In one Florida school, for example, the cafeteria served unsweetened applesauce, colored with Jell-O. It was a big hit with students.

“It also helps to give kids choices,” Concannon said. “That seems to make a difference.”

Sixth-graders Wuan Oliver and Michael Douglas, both 11, gave Tuesday’s lunch a good grade.

Wuan moved to the city from Columbus and says the lunches here are better.

“I didn’t used to like chocolate milk, but it’s better here than in Columbus,” he said.

Wuan also likes that he gets to choose items for his lunch.

He picked grapes and an apple to go along with his hot dog and potatoes.

Michael doesn’t like fruit, so he opted for apple juice instead.


1bigvig316(3 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

I can't believe that 95% of all city kids get a free lunch, their parent can't pony up two bucks or even pack a lunch for their kids. Why do we need government to micro manage our lives. Next thing they'll be checking packed lunches from home.

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2lilymax2(2 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

The photo shows that they are eating hot dogs?? Since when is that considered a healthy choice for lunch?
Plus you have two starches - the bun and the potatoes - really? Lean protein, vegetables and fruit is considered healthier lunch.

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3redeye1(5054 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

bigvig 316 Do you really want mom or dad to give up a pack of cigs for their kids lunch? LOL Come on man!

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4peggygurney(406 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

I agree nupanther. Making fun of a child's name is, well - childish and malicious. Are you an adult? Either way, you need to grow up.

Also, if you think the government is micromanaging our lives by making sure those kids get good nutritious breakfasts and lunches, consider this - some kids wouldn't have breakfast or lunch AT ALL if the government didn't provide them free or at low-cost. Yes, their home lives are just that bad.

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5Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago


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6meagain(85 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Truly scary that we have to even involve the government in feeding our kids. Sure there are those that need a helping hand. Clearly this is more than a helping hand. Even scarier to me is that we have to have government entities to explain, check and require that a lunch is healthy. Have we really become such lemmings that we can't determine or provide that for ourselves or our kids? Scary.

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