The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

October 28, 2011

Students make pitch for healthier food choices

DANVILLE — The chicken tenders and quesadillas served at Danville High School’s cafeteria are legendary.

Unfortunately, both menu items are not very healthy, according to a group of sophomores and juniors in Doug Mathias’ biology class.

The students made their discoveries while working on a unit on organic chemistry.

“They’ve been looking at the foods downstairs in the cafeteria and coming up with healthier options,” Mathias said.

Six groups of Mathias’ students presented their findings Friday to District 118’s Food Service Director Greg Lazzell; Cheryl McIntire, principal of Northeast Elementary Magnet School, which is known nationally for its healthy school menu; and other high school teachers.

Students were asked to list their five favorite breakfast foods and five favorite lunch items served in the high school cafeteria.

When the students learned of the number of calories as well as the sugar and sodium content of their favorite foods, they were surprised.

“We found out they had a lot of calories and salt,” said Jimmy Strawser, a sophomore.

“We knew they tasted good, but we didn’t realize that you really have to watch what you eat,” he said.

Mathias said, “The quesadillas, for example, have 910 mg of sodium.

“It kind of opened my eyes, too,” he said.

“I didn’t realize pancakes had so much salt,” Mathias said. “I love pancakes in the morning, but I have high blood pressure.

“The students also found out that granola bars don’t have a lot of nutritional value,” he added.

Finding healthier options in the cafeteria was challenging, too.

“They’re having a lot of trouble with it because they didn’t realize there was a lot of sugar in low fat foods and a lot of salt in processed foods,” Mathias said. “It’s difficult to find foods that are healthier.”

The students then had to develop healthy meal plans for fictitious case subjects, such as a 275-pound male teenager and a 90-pound female teenager.

“I was trying to have them keep within 2,000 to 2,500 calories a day,” he said.

One group of students worked to develop a meal plan for a 210-pound 15-year-old girl who had an elevated cholesterol level.

“We’re trying to help her lose weight by eating healthy and bring down her cholesterol level,” said Destiny Smith, a junior.

“She needed to get her cholesterol down, so we suggested smaller portions,” Jimmy said of developing a meal plan for his group’s case subject.

“You can eat some chicken tenders, but you can’t overdo it,” Martez Davis, a junior, added.

As for the group’s recommendation to the food service director, as much as the students look forward to chicken tenders being served every week, they were willing to sacrifice for the sake of their health.

“Maybe have chicken tenders once a month instead of every Friday,” Jimmy offered.

Another group of students suggested that their case subject switch out pizza for baked trout at lunch and eschew chicken tenders for a tuna sandwich.

“Chicken tenders are his favorite, but they’re really high in calories and fat, so we switched it out for a tuna sandwich,” said Sydnee Sexton.

Lazzell praised Sydnee’s group’s presentation, saying he liked that they provided their case subject with options for healthier food choices.

“You need options,” he said. “Everything is OK in moderation. You can’t eat chicken tenders every day.”

Another group of students made subtle changes to their case subject’s diet that added up to healthier choices.

Manuel Villanueva said he and his classmates, Beniesha Holmes and Zach Zimmerman, switched the menu from glazed doughnuts to plain cake doughnuts, real eggs to powdered eggs, regular Pop-Tarts to wheat Pop-Tarts, fried chicken to baked chicken and regular pizza to flatbread pizza.

“You had some very good suggestions,” Lazzell praised Manuel’s group.

At the end of the presentations, Lazzell asked the students if their research has had any impact on the way they eat, especially in the school cafeteria.

“If you had that information in the cafeteria, would it change your choice?” Lazzell asked.

Sydnee said it would.

“I had no idea that there were so many calories in the food we eat here,” she said.

Lazzell then asked the students, “If you eat chicken tenders for lunch, do you look at balancing out your day? You’ve got to look at your caloric intake over the day.”

In the coming months, several changes are in store for the high school cafeteria, Lazzell said.

“It’s going to be incremental. We’re going to bring in healthier items and take away the unhealthy ones,” he said.

One change that already has been made is the addition of 100-calorie dessert cups and a reduction in the number of different snack cakes that are offered.

“Every time we bring a healthy item in, an unhealthy item will be taken out,” he said.

Lazzell also plans to post signs giving the nutritional values of the food items served in the cafeteria.

One thing that won’t change, however, are the chicken tenders.

“We still want to offer them choices, because we’re a closed campus. We just don’t want to be the conduit for unhealthy choices,” he said.

Text Only
Local News
  • Police Report Incidents reported to police include: Danville Tuesday: Theft of $46.70 in gas from Circle K, 121 S. Gilbert St. Theft of a license plate sticker in the 900 block of Hubbard Lane. Wednesday: Possession of alcohol in a vehicle in the 2400 block of Ca

    April 18, 2014

  • translate4.jpg In translation DANVILLE — With the help of a Japanese exchange student, the Vermilion County War Museum staff has a better understanding of some of its items.

    April 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • Proposed school standards reviewed Proposed school standards reviewed The Associated Press

    April 18, 2014

  • Elementary students to tackle math problems DANVILLE -- First-graders from all eight of Danville's elementary schools will tackle story problems, progressive computation, multiplication, fractions and even algebra at the third annual Danville District 118 First-Grade Math Challenge next week.

    April 18, 2014

  • Arena sells autographed posters on eBay DANVILLE - Want a piece of history from the David S. Palmer Arena? Several autographed posters are up for eBay auction right now from artists who've performed through the years at the arena. There are posters signed by Jason Aldean, Rodney Carrington

    April 18, 2014

  • Fire Calls Firefighters responded to the following calls: Wednesday, 10:18-10:39 a.m. -- A false alarm at 1900 E. Main St. Wednesday, 12:02-12:14 p.m. -- A medical call in the 100 block of South Gilbert Street. Wednesday, 7:55-8:02 p.m. -- A medical call

    April 18, 2014

  • Bomberger, Ryan.jpg Women's clinic helps 'one child at a time' DANVILLE — Music, testimony and updates are on the agenda at the Women’s Care Clinic’s annual Banquet for Life fundraising dinner.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Night of Strings tonight

    April 17, 2014

  • Egg hunt set for Carver Park

    April 17, 2014

  • County to improve portion of Perrysville Road DANVILLE -- Perrysville Road will be the focus of roadwork by Vermilion County Highway Department crews this year. The Vermilion County Board approved a resolution this week to fund the county's portion of the project, which will stretch southeast fr

    April 17, 2014

AP Video
Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dead at 87 Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
NCAA basketball
NDN Video
Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Don't Be A Tattletale: Bad Bullying Tips For Students Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday The trillest thoughts on marijuana "RHOA" Star Charged With Battery Grizzly Bears Get Snowy Birthday Party Weatherman draws forecast when another technical glitch strikes WGN Elizabeth Olsen's Sexy Shoot Bay Area Teen Gets Prom Date With Help From 'Breaking Bad' Star Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Behind The Tanlines Jersey Strong Part 1 WATCH: Women Fight To Marry Prince Harry! Jenny McCarthy Engaged to "New Kid" Kate and Will Land in Oz O’Reilly Launches Preemptive Strike Against CBS Pixar Unveils Easter Eggs From its Biggest Movies Baby Sloths Squeak for Their Cuddle Partners in Adorable Video
Must Read