Missouri’s school children are supposed to be getting healthier food at school this year but there seems to be some confusion among students, parents, and schools about the new guidelines. New federal law requires schools to develop plans that help reduce student obesity and poor health by emphasizing healthy eating, opportunities for physical education, and ways to work with parents on proper nutrition. The wellness program is required if schools want to continue as part of the federal school-lunch program. The assistant director of school food services for the state, Laina Fullum, says some parents and some school districts are not clear on what is required by federal law, what is recommended by the state, and what is implemented by the local district. She says those kinks are being worked out in these early days of the school year. Fullum says the new law, recommendations, and implementations are not just efforts to feed children better—they’re also ways to teach children life-long lessons about their own health and nutrition. She says the state education department will measure the effectiveness of the wellness programs in school districts but it has not figured out yet how to do that.
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