The Kansas City Star published a three-part feature late last year on how schools in their area are working to improve the quality of food, it's well worth checking out whether or not you have school-age children for what's said about trends in healthy eating.

Part 1: Reap it and eat visits the Niles Home for Children, where the fresh produce used in the cafeteria comes from the school garden that the students work on: "Ratcliff, the garden director at Niles, has seen kids who professed a lifelong hatred for vegetables try —and like — everything from cucumbers to kohlrabi, a kind of cabbage. The pea crop never made it to the cafeteria because the children ate them all straight from the garden. Almost all the green bell peppers met the same fate."

Part 2: This is not your father's corn dog looks at how food manufacturers are now making healthier versions of cafeteria staples. Children might be better off at the cafeteria than you think: "Kids who ate school lunch consumed seven times more vegetables and twice as much fruit as brown baggers, as well as 21 percent fewer calories from fat, according to a 2002 study by Eastern Michigan University. Sack-lunch students also ate three times as many chips, cookies and packaged snacks as school-lunch participants."

Part 3: Putting the café in cafeteria discusses how food service directors are getting ideas from restaurants to get savvy students to eat healthier, more varied options: "Once a month the Lee’s Summit district serves a menu selected by students. But surprisingly, the elementary group’s top choice for its first menu of the year wasn’t pizza or chicken nuggets, the perennial favorites, but chef salad topped with chicken strips. “It’s what they’re seeing at Applebee’s,” Hentzler says."

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