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Baltimore Moves Toward Healthier School Lunches

Brad Herling received a surprisingly warm reaction several years ago when he banned cupcakes and candy during holiday parties in the name of health at Clarksville Elementary School in Howard County.

He's being welcomed with equally open arms this school year as he prepares to lead Centennial Lane Elementary School in the same direction. Parents at his new school have been waging their own war on childhood obesity with a campaign to limit the number of sweet and high-fat snacks served during lunch.

"It will be a perfect match," said Megan Roth, president of the Centennial Lane PTA. "We are a school that is going that way. We already had very few parties where kids brought snacks in. Our community has strong feelings about getting our kids healthier."

At a time when the nation's schools have adopted the strictest health standards in history, some school systems and nutrition groups have asked for and have achieved more stringent restrictions.

Some like Centennial Lane Elementary in Ellicott City have introduced more healthful snacks to students instead of the sweets and other treats. Baltimore City has adopted "Meatless Mondays" and has shifted to an effort to serve locally grown organic food. In Baltimore County, a parent group is pushing for more healthful foods. And nationally, the country's first lady is leading an effort to get children to eat more fruits, vegetables and low-fat foods.
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