Cheney schools see results with healthier lunch options

CHENEY, Wash. — As numbers across the nation for childhood and adult obesity rise, the Cheney School District is seeing a decrease in its numbers. The district says this is in part of its healthy food options and meals that are cooked from scratch.

Lunch time is normally one of the best parts of a school day.

“My favorite lunch food is probably mac and cheese with some vegetables and fruits,” said Quinton Agostinelli, a second grader at Snowdon Elementary School.

You heard that right — Quinton loves fruits and vegetables.

“Sometimes you really want to eat your veggies, because veggies are very good for you,” he told 4 News Now.

Many students 4 News Now saw at Snowdown Elementary wanted those fruits and vegetables.

The school has a cart full of vegetables and fruit that gives students a safe place to choose what they want to try and eat.

“We want the kids to leave with the experience and a belly that is full, that they wanted to eat, and didn’t eat because they had to but wanted to,” said LJ Klinkenberg, the director of nutrition for Cheney Public Schools.

It’s all about educating the kids about what’s good for you and what’s not.

It’s a group effort including the schools’ chefs who come in at 5  a.m. to start preparing food for the kids.  Most of the foods that are made in the school kitchens are made from scratch. The school district tries to avoid processed foods.

“Whatever local products we can get, we purchase through a program where we’re able to buy a lot of west coast products, as much Washington as possible,” Klinkenberg said.

Klinkenberg said the grains for their pizza crusts are grown in Reardan, Washington. The dough for pizza crusts are made from a local restaurant.

A study from the Empire Health Foundation from 2011 to 2016 saw a 4.5 percent decrease of body mass index in kindergarten through fifth grade students in Cheney. That means students’ body fat went down just a little bit.

Although that doesn’t sound like a lot, any progress is progress.

“Them having that choice makes it so they are participating in their own lunch process and we all want to feel like we’re participating in our own life and it’s no different for little kids,” Klinkenberg said.

Making healthier choices in their young days can help them in the future.

Quinton knows.

“You never just want to eat candy all day, because candy doesn’t grow any muscles, it just helps you get fatter,” he told 4 News Now.