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Students eating healthier, environment going greener.

Byline: Paula J. Owen

FITCHBURG - More school kids are eating healthier and helping the environment while doing it with recent changes to the district's meal program.

Jill P. Lucius, director for the district's program through Sodexo food services, and David M. Semenza, assistant director, updated the Fitchburg School Committee this week on the program.

Good news, Mrs. Lucius said, is they are reaching more kids who need help through the national school lunch program, which offers students free or reduced lunch prices based on income guidelines.

Last year, 64 percent of students were signed up and so far this year, 68 percent are enrolled in the program, she said.

To encourage families to fill out the application for the program, the company held a raffle that ended Friday for laptops in the middle schools and high school and a $250 Walmart gift card in the elementary schools. She said the raffle brought in a higher number of applications earlier, but acknowledged the economy also played a role.

"We got more kids into the net," Mrs. Lucius said.

The deadline to return applications is Oct. 9.

Students receiving free or reduced lunch last year are kept in temporary status and will have to pay full price if their applications are not returned by then, she said.

Also, school lunch menus were revised over the summer and now include more choices, along with healthier options and vegetarian dishes.

The company added a second hot entree to the menu at all levels and is offering healthier alternatives, such as rice and beans in the high school and vegetarian wraps, Mrs. Lucius said.

"We're serving healthier meals and getting kids interested in them," she said.

Students are also enthusiastic about the new recycling program in the cafeterias and the staff continues to encourage it, she added.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Oct 8, 2009
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