The Clay Community School Corporation is on a quest to see that area children eat healthier meals and get the exercise needed to help combat obesity in children.
The corporation has developed a wellness plan that it began implementing at the end of the 2005-06 school year and continued throughout the 2006-07 year.
This plan was developed in conjunction with the physical education programs, and created by school nutritionists.
In a nutshell, nutritionists analyze the lunch menus for fat content and nutrition content, which are within a set of guidelines for healthy, nutritious meals.
The plan calls for baking all meals, and no longer serving fried foods. Serving vegetables with dipping sauces, more salads, and more fruit is also included.
In addition, all seven elementary schools now have the same menus and same recipes. They have all been checked for fat content, and nutrition value.
The middle schools and high schools have their menus analyzed, but they plan and prepare their own menus, all within the same guidelines.
"We've had very good feedback from the kids about the taste of their lunches, and the variety of the menu," Corporation Planner Carolyn Kumpf said.
"They don't seem to mind food baked instead of fried, and they're eating more of the vegetables and fruit. That's a great start."
The corporation has also made other changes. Many of the schools have soda machines. These have been replaced with machines filled with bottled water, juice and Gatorade.
"There are still soda machines in some of the teacher's lounges, but they also have a selection of healthier choices. The machines are also switched off during school hours in many schools," Kumpf said.
"Our goal is be the most in-shape and not overweight school district in Indiana. We want our kids in tip-top shape, and to have learned healthier eating habits that they will carry through life," Kumpf said.
The corporation offers free and reduced meals to families that meet eligibility requirements.
Children who are members of TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) assistance or food stamp households are automatically eligible.
The free and reduced meal program is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Indian Department of Education, Division of School and Community Nutrition Programs.