BRUNSWICK COUNTY -- Childhood obesity is a growing problem across the country. And locally Brunswick County school administrators are trying to keep kids healthy and fit by making big changes in cafeterias. But healthy food isn't cheap. County school administrators say it's simple. An apple a day, or other healthy alternatives, will make a big difference for students in and out of the classroom. Cafeterias in Brunswick County schools have seen big changes over the past year. Where there used to be ice cream and french fries, there are now healthy options, like fruits and vegetables, available for students. The changes are part of a statewide effort to provide healthy options for students, teaching them about nutrition, while shying away from a problem that's plaguing kids across the country. Brunswick County School Nutrition Director Tina Ward said, "Obesity is an epidemic that we have." But replacing junk food with health food isn't cheap. Right now Ward says students pay about $1.65 for a meal at school. But it costs about $2.80 to produce that meal. And while federal funds kick back about a quarter of the cost, Ward says it's not enough, so they're pushing for the state to pitch in. Ward says the goal is for all elementary schools across the county to implement healthy options for students by the start of the next school year. That means more choices of fruits and veggies, more whole grains and no fried foods in cafeterias within the next few months. Ward says she's been in touch with state representatives who are also pushing for higher nutritional standards in North Carolina schools. There are currently two proposed bills in the state Senate and House that would approve funding for these improvements, but no word yet on their progress.
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