School Lunch Meals Get a Facelift

new school lunch changesHow have your children liked the facelift of their school cafeteria’s food?   Beginning this school year, new standards were set for the National School Lunch Program that should go unmissed by its 32 million young participants.  What have your kids been eating at school this year?  Schools may still serve that rubbery mystery meat, but along with some more healthy sides.  (We had Salisbury steak at our school that was like rubber.  I’m not even sure what Salisbury steak is…)

Changes to the program

The modifications to the school lunch guidelines include an increasing requirement of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and reduced fat milk along with mandates for reductions in sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat.   Schools are now required to serve ¾ cups of vegetables and ½ cup fruit per day.   Minimum daily and weekly maximum allowances are also set for meat and meat alternatives that are served.   Trans fat has long been given a big frowny face by consumers, but schools have been slow to follow suit with an enacted mandate in July 2012 for 0 trans fat in school lunches.

Are school lunches making our schoolchildren fat?

Childhood obesity from children 2 – 19 is at about 17 percent , which accounts for about 12.5 million kids.  According to the CDC, the numbers of obese in these ages has tripled in the last 30 years.  A study out of the University of Michigan concluded in 2011 that eating school lunches is one of the many factors contributing to obesity in kids.  Lack of physical activity and the marketing of unhealthy items to children have also been blamed for our hefty children

Are the school lunch changes a formulation for change?

The new mandates on school lunches may take some time to get used to (the previous revision was 15 years ago), but I think these mandates are step in the right direction.  School children should be getting the healthiest meal of the day at school, in my opinion.  Educated people usually plan the meals for students, and there is no reason that our kids shouldn’t have the best.  With that said, the costs of running equipment and paying that lunch lady add up.  The cost of serving more fruits and vegetables, especially when they are fresh, adds to the cost tally.   But, the school lunch program has the opportunity to solve some substantial issues – obesity and hunger.

In my opinion, children should learn how to eat well at school by filling their plates with the best food available.   Some Farm to School programs have begun to spring up, making an effort to use local produce.  I believe this is another great lesson for the young minds of today—support those who live and work around you.

What do your kids think about their “new” school lunches?  What do you think about the changes as a parent?

About Kathryn Deschenes

That’s me. I live for food. Food represents tradition, memories, convenience, advancement, entertainment, and much more. That’s why I love it! I’m an enthusiast of edible items (within reason) who occasionally binges on baked goods, takes an extra helping at dinner, loves to travel, and enjoys a glass of thick red wine. Writing is my other passion. I hold a bachelor’s degree in food science, and am currently working on my master’s in the same field. I’m excited to bring you the latest about trending foods, recipes, diets, and other edible subjects.