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WATCH: School lunch at the center of USDA visit

Posted: 8:41 PM, Sep 22, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-22 21:41:54-04

The battle over school nutrition took center stage Tuesday as representatives with the U.S. Department of Agriculture visited two Kansas City, Kansas schools.

Dr. Katie Wilson, the USDA food and nutrition deputy secretary, toured Sumner Academy and Frances Willard Elementary, where she presented the KCK School District with an award.

"They really have some challenges in the facility that they are using here, and yet they are serving a very colorful, wonderful, healthy meal to hundreds of students," she said.

RELATED | KC schools adapt to school lunch rules

The district offers breakfast and lunch to all students at no cost as it's part of their Community Eligibility Provision. The meals include vegetables, fruits, grains and dairy.

"We are really working on education and presentation. We are trying to make the food look more appetizing for them. A lot of it is salesmanship," said Stacy Raith, the operations manager for the KCK School District.

This month, lawmakers in Washington will have to decide whether to make more changes on school lunches. Republicans argue there are too many challenges to getting healthy food to students and some in the Kansas City metro agree.

"There are lots of ways to make it do-able where kids are not taking a gallon of something and dumping it on their tray," said Wilson, who defended lunch regulations. "They can still have their ranch dressing with their vegetables and maybe they add a little yogurt to lower the sodium content. People are doing these things and they have been very successful."

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Ariel Rothfield can be reached at ariel.rothfield@kshb.com .

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