Cutting out the fat to get kids back to a healthy weight at Mission CISD

The stats are startling.

Children across the nation age 6 to 11 are getting bigger by the second.

According to the CDC, childhood obesity has increased from 7% in 1980 to a whopping 20% in 2008. Too many calories consumed and not enough burned throughout the day is what health experts are blaming.

School cafeterias in Mission want the fingers pointed elsewhere because they are cutting out the fat to get students to a healthy weight before it's too late.

"We offer more fresh fruits, more fresh vegetables, our salads are something our children are accepting a little bit more even at the elementary level."

Child Nutrition Program Director Rosie Woodrum says some of the children in Mission schools have never had a salad until they started serving them in the lunch line and it appears they are a big hit.

"In the salads we offer, we have cubed chicken which would be their protein requirement, and we have their fresh vegetables," said Mission CISD Dietician Kimberly Hesbrook.

Every meal goes through a dietary checklist before it gets served.

"All our menus are required to be analyzed. There's a nutritional software called Nutrikids and they TMre are compared to the dietary guidelines and if anything is exceeding something, we go back and we change it and we're not exceeding any type of calories, fat or saturated fat," said Hesbrook.

In Mission cafeterias looks can be deceiving which is part of the plan to get kids to eat the foods that are better for them.

"We don't offer white bread, only wheat or whole grain. Our chicken nuggets are baked and not fried, whole grain coated," said Woodrum.

If Mission CISD has been feeding children healthy meals since 2008, then why are some of them still gaining weight?

Our cameras caught moms and dads walking into the same school cafeteria carrying sodas, bags of fast food and even a large box of pizza.

"If a parent wants to bring a Whataburger, McDonald's, Hot Cheetos or they want to bring a Coke, we can't stop them because they have the right to do that.

They just cannot share with anybody else," said Woodrum."It doesn't do any good if we are teaching it at school but they are not practicing it at home."

For parents who want to learn, some school districts like Mission, provide education in healthy eating for them and the students. Every other year, Region One holds a symposium of sorts for school cafeterias across state.

Weslaco middle schooler Natalie Espinoza is part of a taste testing group that helps choose the healthy foods that could end up school cafeterias in the valley.

She visited the symposium and rated what she was eating.

"I think this food is real good. I love it, I love what they gave me it's real good," said Espinoza.Natalie admits what she eats at home doesn't measure up to those healthy standards.

I absolutely eat healthy at school, but I eat a lot of junk food at home like candy and chips of course," said Espinoza

It costs more to provide students with the food they are serving in Mission.

"If we're spending the funding for the health of the child, yes it's worth it," said Woodrum.

It's money down the drain if children are getting the bad stuff from mom and dad.