The Daily Star
Change is never easy. Some parents and students have found that the big changes in the school lunch program this school year are hard to swallow. But with more than 31 million children being served nationwide each year through the National School Lunch Program, the importance of school food can’t be overstated.
Given this program’s wide reach, the success of these changes may be truly transformational in improving student health. Some of the key ways that schools are meeting the USDA’s new nutrition standards include:
• Ensuring students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week;
• Substantially increasing offerings of whole grain-rich foods;
• Offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties;
• Limiting calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper
portion size and Increasing the focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats and
It is hard to argue with the value of these nutritional improvements, yet to some these changes may seem drastic. But if we step back and look at just how unhealthy children’s school food choices were in the last couple of decades, the need becomes clear.
School food service directors and staff have been greatly challenged by the new lunch program, yet they’ve worked very hard and they have had much success in bringing healthy changes to school cafeterias. Parents might want to go have lunch with their
child and meet the school food service staff. Parents may want to learn firsthand that improving school food can be a tasty experience! Bon appétit!
For more information about healthy school meals, visit www.TrayTalk.org.
Hohensee is a Healthy School New York Coordinator.