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Fit And Well Idaho: Kids And Vegetarian Diets

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By Brittany Cooper

Rupert, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) Long gone are the days for "mystery meat" in one New York school cafeteria. Public School 244 in Queens became the first in the nation to serve only vegetarian cuisine at breakfast and lunch. But could we see this type of fare here in the Gem State?

It's lunchtime at Rupert Elementary and on the menu? Sloppy Joe's.
But not every plate is filled with that sloppy goodness.

For students not willing to take the cuisine of the day, they still must meet the other components of the my plate guidelines. For Bryson here, he has a milk for dairy, carrot for his vegetable, pears for the fruit and the grain is the bun.

The guidelines changed last year, providing students with more fruit and vegetables, but some might argue, these children aren't getting enough to eat.

Nicki Vaughn, the kitchen manager says, "we see kids bring in Cheetos with their lunch and we can't do anything about it...In all actuality, if a child comes through our lunch line, takes everything we're offering and eats it, they're getting plenty of food."

Jill Skeem recently released a cookbook filled with vegan recipes and is a supporter of vegetarian cuisine in schools.

Skeem, author of Comfort Food Gets A Vegan Makeover says, "I think if the school is willing to do that, that's great. A lot of kids live in food deserts so they don't have access to fruits and vegetables so if you can at least get that in their bodies, one meal a day, that's great."

Skeem argues it's lack of education on how to prepare vegetarian meals.

"I think sometimes people aren't sure what to make. You might have to prepare, you might have to prepare, you might have to cook. A lot of people aren't used to cooking."

"Do you know what a vegetarian is?

(student) –no."

Isabelle Hamilton, a student at Rupert believes "it was a dinosaur that never ate meat."

"A person that doesn't eat meat," adds 8-year old Jackie Santos.

The question remains, can we see vegetarian cuisine adapted into Idaho school cafeterias?

Vaughn believes, "it will be real interesting. I don't think a lot of kids have had tofu wraps and stuff like that."

A new look to lunch, one Tempeh Reuben at a time.

Skeem will be signing copies of her cookbook, "Comfort Food Gets a Vegan Makeover" Saturday in Twin Falls. She'll be at Coldwater Creek from 12-5 and will also have samples of caramel corn available. Her book received national attention at a publicity seminar last month in New York.