Minneapolis schools take sugar cereals off the menu

Remember Cocoa Puffs and Cookie Crisp? The cereals you used to gaze at longingly from your seat in the grocery cart. The ones that mom would never let you get--but that the Minneapolis public schools were happy to serve?

The Star Tribune reports that the district replaced some of the Fruit Loops and Frosted Flakes during "National School Breakfast Week" last March. Students now choose between the less-sweet Frosted Mini-Wheats, Honey Kix, Kashi Heart to Heart, MultiGrain Cheerios, Rice Chex, Rice Krispies, and Wheaties.

Minneapolis nutrition services director Rosemary Dederichs told the Star Tribune that she has seen a decline in students' cereal consumption as a result of the change.

The scenario is like our local version of Jamie Oliver's crusade to have the Los Angeles school district dump chocolate milk. He says they need to curb the sugar, while the school says that it's the only way they can entice students to drink the nutritious beverage and better than the alternative of students refusing to drink milk at all.

The sugar cereal ban is part of a larger goal to make school lunch more healthful, trading the corn dogs and French fries for beans, whole grains, and reduced fat and salt.

In Minneapolis, a whopping two-thirds of its students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. For many, the school is their only source of food. (Minneapolis serves breakfast to approximately 12,000 of its 33,000 students.)

Obesity among school-aged children has more than tripled in the past three decades and Dederich has had to take a harsh stance to curb it, as she explained to the Star Tribune:

Loading them up with enough sugar and sodium to induce shock, instead of opting for whole grains, fruits and vegetables, is wrong, even if children don't see it that way.

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