IPS promotes healthier school lunches through new program

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A new program at Indianapolis Public Schools will continue driving the message of healthy eating at an early age.

Wednesday, IPS officials announced a new program called “Pick Your Favorite.”  It’s primarily a poster campaign, featuring several local celebrities and public figures eating healthy foods.

The posters, which will soon go up on cafeterias across IPS, features sports stars like Pacers Paul George and George Hill, Fever star Katie Douglas, Team USA Diver David Boudia and more.  Each poster displays an athlete or other celebrity holding a healthy fruit or vegetable.

Boudia, who was at the kickoff event, said he was glad to promote healthy eating to children.

“When these kids see a person in the spotlight like an athlete and they see that they’re eating well, then hopefully they can choose to accept the role model that they’ve seen from these athletes and carry that out with their everyday life,” Boudia said.

Indycar driver Graham Rahal is also featured on one of the posters.

“I compare it to a car,” Rahal said.  “The fuel you put in a car, if it’s bad it’s not going to perform right.  If you put bad food or fuel in your body, you’re not going to perform right.”

“This is not just a one day event,” said IPS spokesman John Althardt.  “We believe that the message of good nutrition is something that we are going to continue to share with our students and our families.”

The campaign is the result of a partnership between IPS and the Indianapolis Fruit Company, which is contributing all the materials for the program.

“We have close to $500,000 in coupon offers and educational materials that we’re able to give back to Indianapolis Public Schools,” said company spokesperson Lori Taylor.

The “Pick Tour Favorite” starts as IPS continues to make changes to their lunch menus.  Food Services officials continue testing new vegetables and other healthy options to see how the students like them.

At Arlington Woods Elementary School on Wednesday, youngsters were eating turkey tacos on whole wheat tortillas, a veggie mix, including broccoli and black beans, white corn chips and salsa, a banana and fat free chocolate milk.

The entire effort is aimed at reversing the troubling trend of rising obesity rates. Recent studies from the Indiana Youth Foundation and Centers for Disease Control showed Indiana was the eighth worst in the nation when it comes to obesity.  The studies revealed 16 percent of teens are overweight and 14 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 5 are considered obese.

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