Thereís considerable difference in knowing the importance of good nutrition to the development of young minds and bodies, and doing something with that information. Brownwood schools, along with other schools in Texas, are making that point - and taking action - through their menu planning and compliance with stricter regulations on what can and canít be served on local campuses.

With lower-income and even middle-income families feeling increased financial pressure with rising costs of lifeís basics, such as food and energy, the role the school cafeteria plays in the lives of young people has never been more crucial. Itís long been known that itís difficult for a youngster to pay attention and learn lessons when his or her stomach is growling from hunger. But the importance of the nutritional value of what has offered has sometimes not been emphasized beyond a handful of basic requirements.

How things have changed.

Foods served at school are no longer fried. Carbonated beverages are severely restricted. Servings of fruits and vegetables have become a top priority. In Brownwood schools, and probably at many others, the minimum required quantities of the healthier foods are only a starting place, with as much as twice the mandated quantity being provided. And the pricing structure for a la carte selections makes it easier to afford the foods deemed better health choices.

Such steps provide healthful, nutritional choices for young people, to be sure. But they also become part of a greater educational campaign that teaches the importance of good food choices when matters such as obesity - both now in childhood and in the future as adults - are concerned. Itís certainly a long-term endeavor, but itís one that can pay immense dividends to the next generation.

Brownwood Bulletin