Moss Point cuts calories in fight against childhood obesity - - The News for South Mississippi

Moss Point cuts calories in fight against childhood obesity

By Sylvia Hall – bio | email

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - There's something new and different coming out of Escatawpa Elementary's ovens these days. Food that would have been fried, like chicken nuggets and French fries, now get crispy in special ovens.

"The majority of our menu is baked," said Jessica McCovery.  "Baked, broiled or steamed."

The combination ovens can perform all of those functions, and were made possible through a grant by the Bower Foundation.  The new ovens are on the front lines of Moss Point's fight against childhood obesity, a problem Mississippi has battled for several years.

"We are trying to get away from fried food and we're showing young people that you can have those same foods baked or broiled, and taste just as good," said Brenda Lewis, Health and Wellness Coordinator for the Moss Point School District.

Child Nutrition Director Jessica McCovery said the ovens account for some serious calorie cuts, from 60-75 calories per meal per student.  That leaves the school district plenty of room to teach the students about healthy food choices.

"We have to have a certain number of calories per age group," McCovery said. "So this age group [requires] 664 calories by the state, so we're able to allow more fruits and vegetables in to their diets by taking those calories away."

They hope the lesson doesn't stop outside the school's doors.

"We hope they take home a message to their parents about how important it is to eat well and to also have a good amount of physical activity," said Lewis.

Lewis also said students who eat balanced nutritious meals perform better in school than those who do not. 

"They're more alert, they're more energetic, and they have a better balanced nutrition that helps them move through the day and through the day," said Lewis.  "Moving around and having physical activities throughout the day work hand in hand in making a really alert child."

The Moss Point School District is in its second year of the Bower Grant.  The grant has funded other health initiatives in the school district for students and staff, including Weight Watchers for staff members.

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