Students weigh-in on calorie restrictions in school lunches - WKRN News 2

Local students weigh-in on calorie restrictions in school lunches

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

Students across the country are pushing back against new federal guidelines aimed at curbing childhood obesity.

The new Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act limits calories in school lunches.

Elementary school students are allotted 650 calories for lunch.   Middle school students get up to 700 calories and high school students max out at 850 calories.

Registered Dietitian Lauren Cromer notes that many kids, including athletes, the food insecure and those with high caloric needs may fall through the cracks.

Still, she believes the new guidelines are a step in the right direction.

"I think that it's going to provide 40% to 50% of their daily calorie needs, so for the majority of them, they are getting enough calories," she said.

The guidelines do not account for gender or activity level of the child, and students at East Nashville Literature Magnet High School believe they should.

Ray Hampton, a student at East Lit, says he always leaves school hungry.

"I play baseball and I'm about to start conditioning so I'm going about to be even hungrier after I leave," he said.

Shatonia Hayes, another student at East Lit, is not bothered by the calorie restrictions, but would like to see the quality of the food improve.

"It's enough for me because I just eat a salad or something," Hayes said.

Students are quick to point out many of their classmates rely on school lunch as their primary meal.

"[850 calories] is not enough for them," Kiana Cooley said. "It's not."

Cooley worries the new guidelines are not helping her classmates or our nation's ever-expanding waistline.

"I don't think the food is healthy.  Period.  They can cut down the calories, but it's just not healthy," she said.

The new guidelines took effect in August.  They also require cafeterias to serve less fat and sodium and more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

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