School lunch participation down nationally and in Calcasieu Pari - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

School lunch participation down nationally and in Calcasieu Parish

(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC) (Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC) (Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
Week 3: 9-12 Grade (Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC) Week 3: 9-12 Grade (Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC) (Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) -

While federal guidelines in making school lunches healthier sounds good in theory, school nutrition directors say the menu requirements are difficult to implement and many kids won't eat them anyway.

School cafeterias across the country are serving up healthier lunches for students.

"We serve and try to please the kids," said Adonus Gatewood, Cafeteria Manager at LaGrange High School.

But each year, federal nutrition guideline changes have become more stringent.

New meal pattern requirements call for more fresh fruits and vegetables, skim milk, and cutting back on portion sizes.

So how do you balance healthy choices with keeping kids fed and happy?

Patricia Hosemann, School Food Service Director for Calcasieu Parish says, "We do a lot of scratch cooking and we get to control the ingredients that go in these products."

Adding options like wraps or salads for middle and high schools has also helped.

"The kids really enjoy the foods, especially the salads that we serve," said Gatewood.

So, then we asked the students themselves what they thought about the cafeteria food. Everything from ‘alright' to wanting larger portions was vocalized.

While school officials say they recognize students don't like certain foods, the waste or lack of school lunch participation is a trend that extends beyond Calcasieu Parish.

"Nationwide USDA is saying participation is down in schools by about 16%. We have seen a 7% decrease, which of course affects your income," explained Hosemann.

But it's not a lack of variety here; rather, it could be Louisiana culture.

"You know they tend to eat more fried foods, they tend to eat more salty foods," added Hosemann.

But officials say parents can help by following their meal pattern requirements at home.

Of course, there are certain things students do like...

"They love the baked chicken here and they also love the red beans and rice and jambalaya," said Gatewood.

And the jambalaya was on the menu Thursday.

School nutritionists say they'll face another guideline change this fall, which will require them to cut back even more on sodium and convert from 51% to 100% whole grains. They say vending machines will also see a facelift.

New this fall, Hosemann says Calcasieu Parish will be partnering with Chef Paul Prudhomme's seasoning blends.

Copyright 2014 KPLC. All rights reserved.

  • More Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • Authorities recover stolen motorcycle in Elton

    Authorities recover stolen motorcycle in Elton

    Saturday, April 21 2018 9:32 AM EDT2018-04-21 13:32:48 GMT
    (Source: JDPSO)(Source: JDPSO)

    A man stole a motorcycle in the 2200 block of US 190 in Elton, officials say. 

    More >>

    A man stole a motorcycle in the 2200 block of US 190 in Elton, officials say. 

    More >>
  • Lake Charles native discusses new role as Louisiana's higher education commissioner

    Lake Charles native discusses new role as Louisiana's higher education commissioner

    Friday, April 20 2018 11:37 PM EDT2018-04-21 03:37:43 GMT
    Kim Hunter Reed (Source: Colorado Department of Higher Education)Kim Hunter Reed (Source: Colorado Department of Higher Education)
    Kim Hunter Reed (Source: Colorado Department of Higher Education)Kim Hunter Reed (Source: Colorado Department of Higher Education)

    The next person to oversee college campuses across our state is someone some might recognize.  Lake Charles native Kim Hunter Reed was selected to become Louisiana's Commissioner of Higher Education after a months-long search.   "It's a wonderful feeling, and a wonderful opportunity," said Reed.   Reed was chosen over three other finalists for the job. "When the phone rings and people say to you your state needs you, they need your...

    More >>

    The next person to oversee college campuses across our state is someone some might recognize.  Lake Charles native Kim Hunter Reed was selected to become Louisiana's Commissioner of Higher Education after a months-long search.   "It's a wonderful feeling, and a wonderful opportunity," said Reed.   Reed was chosen over three other finalists for the job. "When the phone rings and people say to you your state needs you, they need your...

    More >>
  • Lake Charles man sentenced for stealing rhino horn

    Lake Charles man sentenced for stealing rhino horn

    Friday, April 20 2018 6:09 PM EDT2018-04-20 22:09:14 GMT
    (Source: USDOJ)(Source: USDOJ)
    (Source: USDOJ)(Source: USDOJ)

    A Lake Charles man stole a black rhinoceros horn from McNeese State University, according to the United States Department of Justice.  McNeese's Biology department staff reported to police that a horn had been stolen from a mounted black rhinoceros head on display, says United States Attorney David C. Joseph. Joseph says the United States Fish Wildlife Service agents found the horn for sale online in Sulphur on a website with images of the horn on the hood of a car. An undercov...

    More >>

    A Lake Charles man stole a black rhinoceros horn from McNeese State University, according to the United States Department of Justice.  McNeese's Biology department staff reported to police that a horn had been stolen from a mounted black rhinoceros head on display, says United States Attorney David C. Joseph. Joseph says the United States Fish Wildlife Service agents found the horn for sale online in Sulphur on a website with images of the horn on the hood of a car. An undercov...

    More >>
Powered by Frankly