OS High School students choose healthy meals - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

OS High School students choose healthy meals

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OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) -

A new program at Ocean Springs High School has given students a voice when it comes to their eating habits. Before the lunch crowd arrives to dig in, something else happened. A focus group of student leaders was formed to come up with new menu options for students. 

Gayle Schultz is the director of child nutrition. 

"We all met, and they had some wonderful ideas. Surprisingly, very healthy choices that they wanted," Schultz explained. "They wanted more salads, a vegetarian choice, and more chicken." 

The new healthy options did away with the myths of what teens want to eat. Emily Dalgo served on the student focus group. 

"Everyone kind of assumes that highschoolers want to eat french fries, pizza, and hamburgers but everyone's general consensus was that they wanted more fresh fruits. They wanted a salad bar. They wanted water," Dalgo said.

The cafeteria has become a popular gathering spot now. Anna Del Castillo is another member of the focus group.  

"It's encouraged a lot more students to start eating lunch. I think we've seen a significant amount of students who buy more lunches and they seem to be enjoying it," Del Castillo said. 

The proof is on the plate according to student Ben Gardner.

"I think it tastes great. Pretty healthy, it's delicious and it's a great choice," Gardner said.

Not only do these high school students seem to be enjoying the food and the healthy choices they're making, but in a state with one of the highest childhood obesity rates in the country, this kind of a program can also be life changing. 

That according to Dr. Bonita Coleman-Potter, the Ocean Springs school superintendent.  

"We're happy that our obesity rate has actually decreased in the State of Mississippi to a certain extent," Coleman-Potter said. "We also see the cafeteria program for both breakfast and lunch an important part of that process to change our children's eating habits and help them make healthier choices, but also to make it a fun place for our kids to be." 

Fun and healthy, a winning combination.

School officials say they hope the program at the high school can be expanded into other schools in the district in the coming months.

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