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Food for thought: Area districts struggle to meet nutrition mandates and still offer lunches kids will eat

"Instead of iodized salts, you would use sea salts," said Mossop. "I think that it's a healthier alternative."

The schools' food service will also be making a push toward eliminating trans fats from the school's menus, beginning with chicken and French fries next year.

Mossop said student input is still important, and she meets with student representatives regularly to get a sense of what they are looking for, but "as much as we do want to accommodate, we can't accommodate all the requests."

Students have made some pretty lofty requests, said Mossop, including lobster " a choice she admits would be nice but "cost-prohibitive."

The financial goals of the Guilderland food services program are similar to the other district's food service programs. As with other districts, a balancing act comes into play when offering healthy alternatives, such as whole-grain bread products, costs more than what was offered in the past. Despite the call for nutritious alternatives, many budgets for school lunch programs are holding steady at pre-mandate levels.

"You want to at least break even," said Mossop.

Despite the challenges, Mossop said, she is excited about the future of the district's food service program.

"We're really taking steps in the right direction," said Mossop.

SIDEBAR: Group holds high standards for school lunches

By JIM CUOZZO, Spotlight Staff

"No hot dog for me, thank you, I'm having the salad."

If state nutrition advocates are successful, this phrase could be something students might soon utter as they wait in the school lunch line to choose among several nutritious food choices before heading back to their afternoon science labs or French class.

Aimee Hamlin, the executive director for the state Coalition for Healthy Schools based in Ithaca, said the time to stop obesity in America begins at an early age.

"Sixty-six percent of adults in this country are overweight or obese, and that's where these kids are heading," said Hamlin.

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