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App helps parents, kids choose healthier school lunches

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SALT LAKE CITY — Getting kids to make healthy food choices can be tricky, and a new app promises to help with that.

Kids can be a bit persnickety with their food. But a new app, School Lunch by NutriSlice, helps kids plan their meals with their parents.

"I like my food warm. And I do not like vegetables. I hate vegetables," said one student, Haden Bishop.

The Jordan School District is the first in Utah to use the app. It will cost the district roughly $8,000 to maintain it every year. District dietitian Katie Bastian feels it is worth it.

"And now as they run their mouse over the food, the nutritional information will come up with the carb count and allergen information," Bastian said.

Last year, the federal government put in place food guidelines for American schools, regulating portion sizes and increasing servings of fruits and veggies. But the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act didn't sit well with kids, who complained they were hungry. Bastian said kids are now getting used to the healthier food choices.

"We have to remember our audience," she said. "So for a corn dog, you know, maybe use a turkey corn dog with a whole grain breading. But definitely the more fruits and vegetables I can get them to take the better."

This app is one of several initiatives from the district to feed kids healthier foods. District nutrition director Jana Cruz said the district is also partnering with four local growers to get produce from the farm to kids' trays.

"We'll check how they handle the produce. There are food safety concerns so how they handle their food is documented and we have it on file," Cruz said.

Now the goal is to fill kids' trays with Utah's own homegrown foods. But school nutritionists say that's just not feasible year-round.

"As we all know in Utah, we have a short growing season," Cruz said. "Even if we got to the point in our learning curve where we could bring in local, it would only be through the fall."


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