BALTIMORE (WJZ) — While students don’t head back to class until Tuesday, some Howard County students are already hard at work on a special project that leaders are hoping will get a passing grade.

“For us, the real goal is to encourage young eaters to eat healthy food and develop good habits,” says Dr. Michael Martirano, Howard County Public Schools Interim Superintendent.

With forks in hand, and plates packed high, students from Bellows Spring Elementary are using their pencils and taste buds to use, giving their feedback on fresh, new food options now on the menu for the upcoming school year.

“As we start the new school year off, every school, every elementary school this year, will have a salad bar,” says Brian Ralph, with Howard County Public Schools.

Gone are the sugar and high-calorie options, in favor of fruits, baked goods, and more locally sourced items.

School leaders say, it’s a first lesson in building healthy eating habits and parents agree.

“I think nutrition is a huge building block to their learning and their overall development into adulthood,” says one parent.

The changes are part of the Let’s Rethink Lunch program, which was started last year. It promotes a high quality, healthy, and delicious options for students.

Leaders say that having nutritious options are critical to the success of their students.

“Our young people come to us every day, many of them are fed with healthy food, but many of them often times, don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” says Ralph/

56,000 students attend Howard County Public Schools.

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