Are active students getting enough calories during school lunch - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Are active students getting enough calories during school lunch

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New federal lunch guidelines for schools aren't going down well with some students. The guidelines restrict the number of calories that can be on a lunch tray.

The goal of course is to fight obesity among children. But here's the flip side. Many students are throwing away the fruits and veggies. And then going hungry for the rest of the school day. 

Members of the Clay Chalkville High School football team have weight lifting class at 1:30. And after that they have football practice until 4. Head coach Jerry Hood says it takes a lot of food and hydration to keep a schedule like that.

"We supplement our kids when they come up here with some kind of snack or a little sandwich or something because after they lift weights and before they go to practice we feel like they need to have something," said Hood.

Prior to the federal lunch guidelines, schools only had a calorie minimum. Beth Miller, nutrition supervisor for Jefferson County Schools says there was no maximum limit.

"For lunch we had to offer at least 500 to 800 calories but we could go up to one thousand or two thousand, it didn't matter as long as we met that minimum," said Miller.

Now there's a cap.

"For high school students it's 750 to 850 calories,"

But is that enough for football players of a large size? Or any active student for that matter?

Hood is not convinced.

"The idea of it makes sense but it's just like anything else in the world you can't make one rule and it applies to everybody," he said.

Miller admits, when it comes to calories, one size does not fit all. But it does fit most.

"It is based on the average population. Not a sick individual. Not an athlete. It's based on an average population because that covers the majority of our society," she said.

She says 750 to 850 calories for a teenager, active or not, is not a dangerously low amount.

"It's definitely not unsafe. 750 to 850 calories for lunch is a large amount of calories so it's definitely not unsafe," she said.

Miller says many student are simply leaving out some of the essentials. For instance, she's noticed some students who will take the required grain and meat, but skip out of the fruit and vegetable.

So that may contribute to them not feeling full enough for practices.

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