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Knoxville school switches to organic, locally grown menu this school year

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A local school has made a major change in how their kids are eating this new school year.

Thackston School in Knoxville has switched to a healthier menu made up of mostly organic and locally grown produce, meat and other ingredients. The best part is the kids seem to appreciate the meals.

"I've definitely noticed it's a lot different. I love it much more. It's a lot healthier than what we used to have," said fourth grader Noah Whittaker.

"We used to get chicken fingers and unhealthy stuff. I didn't like it. But now it's so colorful," said third grader Izzie Wilson.

The lunches are made off-site by a Knoxville catering company called "Goodness to Go".

"We believe in no preservatives, no chemicals, no dyes," said Goodness to Go co-owner Lisa Nix.

Thursday's lunch consisted of macaroni and cheese made with cheese and dairy from Sweetwater Valley Farm and Cruze Farm, both local farms. The meat on the tray was grain fed and local, as is all their meat.

The bread and cookies were baked by the catering company with all natural and organic ingredients. Beans were from Bush's Baked Beans, also a local business.

There was a whole assortment of fruits and vegetables as well, most of it fresh and locally grown.

"We try to get everything as local as possible. It'll make a difference in their lives. Once they like something like broccoli or a stalk of celery, they'll always eat it," Nix added.

The lunch used to cost parents $4 a meal. Now it costs $5 a meal. The dollar has made a huge difference, according to staff.

The principal of Thackston School, Kristi Wafford, says fitness is already a big part of their curriculum.

"Adding the meal portion to the exercise portion has really helped add to all the healthy habits we've been teaching them the past few years," Wafford said.

They may be young, but the students do understand how this shift will change the course of their lives.

"It's a really good difference because I'm going to be healthier and I won't have to go to the doctor as much," Wilson said.

Kids get a break each Friday from healthy food. They get pizza, but with a side of vegetables. Goodness to Go says they cater and deliver healthy meals in large and small quantities to other establishments like offices as well.

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