September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. The topic of children and unhealthy eating habits has become a recurring topic on TV and in the halls of congress. Many changes have been proposed in order to fight this epidemic, including changing menus in school cafeterias. Laura Cabe, the Jackson County Director for Child Nutrition had the following to say about our area, “The program we operate here at Jackson County Schools is a federal program, we operate the national schools breakfast and lunch program as well as after school snack program and we have specific guidelines that we have to follow. Last year was the first year we implemented the new guidelines, basically we have increased whole grains, we don’t have any trans-fats in any of our products unless it’s naturally incurring as in meat products. We don’t have any fryers. We serve only skim or 1% milk. We have more fresh fruits and vegetables, children are required to take at least a half a cup of fruit or vegetables in order to have a reimbursable meal. We’re starting up a salad bar in Cullowhee valley in a few weeks. We promote education on what the students see on our menu. The menus have really changed in the past year to year and a half due to the new meal patterns we follow.” Laura Cabe states that while the early indicators are promising regarding health and students lunch and breakfast menu, it is going to take some time to see significant positive change. For more information about the federal school nutrition program or on childhood nutritional health, you can contact Laura Cabe at 586-2311.