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12:54 PM Wed, July 18th

School nutrition study targets childrens eating habits

By HILARY ELLER

The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT Students at Prescott Mile High Middle School seem to prefer junk food, but theyre in for a surprise next year when the school participates in Arizona Supterintendent of Schools Tom Hornes second Nutrition Pilot Study.

PMHMS sixth-grader Tyler Waller said Friday during lunch that hes not really concerned about his health.

I have a fast metabolism, he said.

He usually eats chicken fajitas during lunch because theyre healthy and theyre really good.

In February, Horne released the results of the first study, which required eight elementary schools to alter the contents of any food sales available to students.

The schools removed all sugared sodas, candies and gum and replaced them with healthier food products such as water, juice, low-fat milk, granola bars, pretzels and fruits and vegetables.

PMHMS Principal Joe Howard explained that the school already offers fairly healthy choices for its students.

They love sugar, he said, adding that aside from helping students to feel good in class after eating a healthy breakfast or lunch, school personnel want to teach students the life skill of good nutrition.

Vending machines containing soda are turned off during school hours and the cafeteria offers a salad bar that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables.

The school also offers a snack bar, which includes treats such as bagels, baked potato chips, juice, milk, licorice, chicken tenders with fries, pretzels, Rice Krispie treats and fruit roll-ups.

These guys love the snack bar, Howard said.

Sure enough, during lunch, the lines for the snack bar reach the back of the room.

Standing in line for the snack bar, Aubrey Hancock, Alyssa Padgett and Kelsey Padgett said they usually eat cheese sticks for lunch. If cheese sticks arent available, they eat pizza.

All three of them said they werent concerned about their health.

As long as Im not fat, Hancock said.

If the girls couldnt have cheese sticks or pizza, they said theyd bring lunch from home, which might include a sandwich or leftovers from dinner the night before.

Ellyn Jirsa said she has attended several schools in the Prescott Unified School District, and none of them have good food.

Maybe they should have more variety of salads and sandwiches, she said, adding that if the school did not offer donuts and other junk food, it could offer a larger variety of healthy food.

Seventh-grader Matthew Bricker said that much of the schools cafeteria food doesnt seem healthy.

For example, he said, the pizza is like a Pop-Tart with cheese on it.

His friend Kyle Packard added, that you have to wring it out.

Their friend Douglas Schraeder said, The cheese is like plastic.

The boys said they mostly go for what tastes good.

See related story on page 3C.

Contact the reporter at heller@prescottaz.com