I remember eating chips and candy. I remember eating baked ziti and canned green beans. I remember being super jealous of my friends’ brown bags. I’m recalling my lunches in middle school and mine were not always the most nutritionally sound(that’s what I get for making “meals” out of vending machine fare-sorry Mom and Dad!).
In case you haven’t heard, new school lunch guidelines came out last week. Many schools and school districts have been taking progressive steps to improve the quality of foods offered to their children. This announcement marks the first official changes to the program in fifteen years and they will gradually come to fruition over the next three years. Basically kids are looking at more whole grains, less sodium, and less fat. This also marks the beginning of calorie maximums allowed at each meal. And there is a focus on tasty foods(thanks Rachel Ray and asst. white house chef Sam Kass) and schools will receive slightly more federal money per meal.
Sounds like good stuff right? However, as with any big announcement, there is some backlash. An interesting take here, sounds off that maybe eliminating choices for children is not a good thing and there are other methods to encourage healthful behavior. Basically, since I know some of y’all won’t read up on the link, kids in LA have been buying up junk food on the black market since schools in LA started offering healthier fare. Additionally, it sounds like great theory to offer children vegetables at every meal, but there is limited data to show that children are actually eating the vegetables. I remember spending time at an elementary school where they served pizza with carrot and celery sticks-children had the option to choose as they went down the line-and few chose to add the vegetables to their tray. Not that I think children should not have vegetables at lunch! Because they should! And hopefully dinner and snack time too.
My point is that the real effects of regulations like these won’t be seen until schools start implementing them. And many schools are on very tight budgets and have children coming through the lunch line who have approximately 15 minutes to eat lunch. School lunches provide a really big service to a lot of children, and I applaud any efforts to make them healthier. Now we just need to get kids to want to eat the healthy food…..and their parents…… and everyone else.