Sen. Thomas Carper visited South Dover Elementary OCt. 26 to talk about the Healthy, Hunger-Free Act of 2010, and to see what local kids love to eat, and what they turn up their noses at.

Sen. Thomas Carper stopped by South Dover Elementary Oct. 26 to talk about what kids are learning while they’re eating.

“It’s not just the ABC’s, it’s not just numbers, it’s what we should eat,” he said.

In August, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which would dole out $4.5 billion in new child nutrition funding over 10 years. The legislation’s goals are three-fold: To reduce childhood hunger by expanding access to programs, to improve the nutritional quality of school food in an effort to promote healthy choices and reduce obesity, and to streamline and simplify program management for schools.

Delaware Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery said the act could impact the state in a variety of ways, from including meals for foster children to helping the farm to school initiative to reducing paperwork.

Carper congratulated the district on the already significant changes it has made to its food offerings.

Capital School district recently started introducing students to healthier options such as whole grains instead of starchy white bread, lower fat milk, and a greater selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. James Trower, Capital’s supervisor of child nutrition, said developing healthy habits at a young age is crucial, so they’re targeting students at the elementary and middle school levels.

“We try to do it where they’re most impressionable,” he said.

With this in mind, Capital has a grant through the USDA to introduce new vegetables and fruits in four of its schools: Central Middle School, and Fairview, East and Towne Point elementaries. Students are getting a taste for healthy snacking with items like broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots and low-fat dip. Pineapples, oranges and apples are standard, and Trower said eventually they’ll introduce berries.

South Elementary third-grade student Nathan McGown said his favorite meal is lunch, where he enjoys salads with chicken and carrots, or pizza — made with a whole-grain crust. For dessert he goes for “melted ice,” or water ice. The district did away with ice cream, opting instead for lesser evil fruit popsicles, sherbet and water ice.

Third-grader Zoe Hall said the school used to have a lot more junk food, and that now they have healthier choices, and lots of them.

“We’re trying to get used to the wheat bread,” she said.

Carper said students are on the right track — a taste for white bread, mashed potatoes and gravy and French fries would cause them issues as adults.

He stressed that healthy kids could mean healthier families because when it comes to obesity, many overweight children learned unsavory habits from their parents. He’s hoping some of these kids will teach their parents a better way to eat.

“These little kids are going to go home and be ambassadors,” he said.