Dougherty Middle School fighting obesity tray-by-tray -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Dougherty Middle School fighting obesity tray-by-tray

November 14, 2004

ALBANY -  It's just another day behind the serving line for Cafeteria Manager Marion Tharpe.  But today, and this school year, is much different from past.

"(We have) more fuits and vegetables on the line," she said.  "We're going to baked stuff on the line."

A growing problem of childhood obesity has become the target of Dougherty Middle School's project, 'Youth Becoming Healthy.'  "This is where we really need to start to get them to eating right, because once you get to an older age, it's harder to correct the problem," she said. 

The school has started in the place obesity begins: the lunch room.  They're cutting fats from food choices and most vending machines now only have juice or milk products.  The only one in the lunch room complete with candy bars, chips and the like will be gone next year.

With the options of unconventional lunch room foods, such as Friday's choice of squash casserole, one might believe students would turn up their nose.  At Dougherty Middle, that doesn't seem to be the case. 

"Most kids, now that they seen it, most kids want to be active and stuff," Eighth Grader Brishauna Peterson said.  "They want to eat right. They want to be healthy."

The program may be doing more than creating a healthy diet: "Attitudes are better. They (students) seem more cheerful. They're easy to get along with. They're speaking more, smiling more," Tharpe said.

And for good reason.  "My pants keep slipping up and down,"  Tharpe said, leading her to the store for a few new pair.

As part of the program, the whole school was weighed at the beginning of the year. They're in a contest to see who can lose the most weight. They'll find out after their first weigh-in come January.

The program is sponsored through a grant from Palymra Medical Center and Merck Chemical, and Newspapers In Education.

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