California schools join push for healthier eating

Local produce program helps reach health goals.

March 4—First lady Michelle Obama's push to improve the quality of food served in U.S. schools appears to be bearing fruit locally.

"Childhood obesity is a big buzz topic right now," said Cinde Stone, director of nutrition services at the Rialto (Calif.) Unified School District. "I think there's studies that show our nation as a whole is overweight. I think they're trying to help fix that problem."

In keeping with the first lady's goal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been adjusting its school meal requirements so that districts must serve more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and less salt.

And for the first time, the government has set maximum calorie counts for meals served in schools. Previous regulations required only a minimum calorie count.

The new regulations will be phased in beginning in the 2012-13 school year, and many local districts are already adjusting their menus.

"It's been quite a transition because there are a lot of kids, particularly in this area, that grew up eating fast food," said Rose Fennell, nutrition specialist with the San Bernardino City Unified School District.