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Childhood obesity and the need for healthy school lunches has been a hot topic across the country and locally for the past several months, and federal regulation will soon force permanent changes in all public schools.
But experts say it'll take more than that to transform this dangerous epidemic.
Schools in Grand Island and Hastings have already made significant changes.
"We changed all our grain products to whole grain," Grand Island Public Schools Director of Nutrition Services Kris Spellman says.
"We offer a fresh fruit and vegetable bar every single day, it's unlimited to students," Hastings Public School District Director of Finance and Operations Jeff Schneider says.
Over the next few years, federal regulations will make those types of changes permanent across the country.
"By 2013-2014, every product you serve, whether it's rice or pasta or bread or anything like that, needs to be a whole grain," Spellman says. "So we're about half way there already."
And so far, feedback has been positive in both districts.
"The key is that we're providing our students with variety. In the past we basically said here's a tray and this is what there is today," Schneider says. "Now the kids have choices and we're teaching the kids to make healthy choices."
But Registered Dietitian Pat McCoy says having those healthy options at school doesn't necessarily translate at home.
"The schools are doing an excellent job, with the changes that are going on, the new regulations that are going to be put into place. But it's not the school's responsibility, it's the parent," McCoy says.
She says parents' attitudes toward food and presentation of it have a lifelong impact on kids' eating habits.
"You show me a picky eater in a child and I guarantee that one or both parents are picky eaters as well," McCoy says. "If you're putting food down in front of the child and right away the parent or the care giver is saying, 'No, I don't want to eat that,' then right away we've set the stage that neither is the child."
She says without changes at home, school and government efforts can only reach so far.
"The best thing a parent can do is to develop sound, positive, eating habits in their children at an early age," McCoy says.