Sartell to use nutritional scoring system for school lunch

5:05 PM, Oct 11, 2011   |    comments
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SARTELL, Minn. -- Sartell High School plans to kick off a new program later this school year aimed at helping students make healthier food choices.

School lunch in the district has already seen a number of improvements.

Brenda Braulick, the Food Service Director for the Sartell St. Stephen School District said, "We've added whole grains, lots of whole grains, deep green vegetables, deep green vegetables, deep orange vegetables, working to lower the sodium, working to lower the fat content."

And now, a numeric scoring system, called NuVal, will soon be added.  It rates each food's nutritional value on a scale of 1 to 100.  Braulick said, "Were only the second school district in the country to do this."

While the school will be the first to use the NuVal program in Minnesota, it's already getting a test run in the community. It's been in Sartell Coborn's grocery stores for a year.

Sartell High School junior, Maggie Powers, said, "My family loves it.  It makes it easy.  You don't have to read labels.  You can just get it and go."

Each food item is given a number.  The higher the number is, the higher the nutritional value of that food.  The CentraCare Health Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shield helped bring it to Sartell.

NuVal was created by Dr. David Katz with the Yale Prevention Research Center.  Jodi Rohe of the CentraCare Health Foundation said, "It takes basically 30 nutrients that we consider good in food the vitamins and minerals and it divides it by what would be considered the bad elements of food fat sodium and cholesterol."

Kiwi is a perfect food with a score of 100, whereas scores for yogurts vary. When it comes to cereal there's a dramatic range of NuVal scores, from the teens to the 90s, and Coborn's has seen a shift.  Mother's have been seen giving their kids the option of choosing among cereals with a higher NuVal number and, in general, people are buying healthier cereal.

With a grant from the Medica Foundation, the Sartell High School ala cart line and vending machines will get NuVal in January.

Superintendent Joe Hill said, "We want to make sure our kids are empowered to make healthy decisions."

Braulick said, "Independence, Missouri has been doing it for over a year and I hear that they've had very good success and are expanding their program."

NuVal has changed the habits of some kids at home.  Powers said, "We've been eating a lot healthier which is cool."

The hope is when students do see the numbers they will trade up for healthier choices at school too. 

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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