New School Year, New Menu RegulationsWed 29 Aug 2012
Story by The Food Revolution Team
Students head back to a new school year and back to new school food.
As new meal standards are implemented in schools starting this fall kids won’t be heading back to the same school lunch this year. These new school meal standards mean that students will have the following on their school lunch trays:
• more wholesome and nutritious lunches
• double the amount of fruits and vegetables
• more whole grains
• less salt
• less unhealthy fats
Plus there are new age-based calorie ranges too, ensuring that children are served proper portions for their age.
With a third of American children being overweight or obese, over 31 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program, and 15 years since the last
update, these updates to the school meal program have come at an important time.
“The new school meal standards are one of the most important advances in nutrition in decades,” said CSPI director of nutrition policy Margo G. Wootan.
Schools provide a key place to develop healthy eating habits, teach about food and nutrition and provide wholesome nutritious meals to help kids grow and learn yet currently school-aged children's diets fall short of recommendations, especially for whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
However, these new meal standards will go a long way to begin to remedy these nutritional shortfalls and address key concerns around child nutrition and the nation's obesity epidemic, and providing better food in schools will help teach kids lifelong lessons to allow them to look after themselves and their families.
Everyone Has A Role To Play When It Comes To Healthy Kids
While schools across the country are working hard to implement these new healthier standards, they need our support in order to be able to fully implement these changes and transition smoothly to the new and updated regulations.
“School food service professionals are working hard to implement the new standards, and they need the support of parents, teachers,administrators, food manufactures, and other community members,” said Wootan. “Everyone has a role to play when it comes to healthy kids.”
Here are some ways you can support healthier school lunches:
1. Spread the word to other parents about healthier school lunches. Write a letter to the editor; post a message on Facebook; tweet about them; or forward this blog post to family, friends, and colleagues.
2. Review the school menu and ask your child what is being served. Ask what they had for lunch, what they liked, how it could be better. Share constructive feedback with the school food service professionals in your child’s school district.
3. See the improvements to school lunches first-hand by having lunch with your child.
4. Offer to organize a taste test of new recipes and foods at your child’s school.
5. Feed your child more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains at home so they will be more open to trying them at school.
6. Talk to the school food service director in your child’s school about ways you can support their efforts.
7. Join your school wellness/health committee (or start one).
We’ll have some updated school food toolkits and resources available on our site shortly which will aid you in getting the facts, finding support and kicking starting action to help implement these changes. In the meantime check out these factsheets for parents, teachers and school administrators and visit www.schoolfoods.org/back2school for more information and other ideas.
The updates to school meals were required by Congress in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The law also provides additional funding for school meals through several provisions, including the first increase in reimbursement rates (above inflation) in years and reasonable pricing requirements for school lunches and a la carte items. Beginning October 1, schools will be eligible to receive an additional six cents for each healthy lunch they serve.
What’s Changed In Your School?
Have you noticed changes to the lunch menu and food served in your local schools yet? Find out what’s happening with the food served in the LAUSD this year and let us know what you think of the new regulations by posting on our Food Revolution Community page.
The new school lunch standards have the potential to transform the school nutrition environment and improve children's health, and we need everybody’s help to get them fully implemented.
The Food Revolution Team
Photos from The School Day Just Got Healthier / Photo Credits: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
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