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How can a school lunch be more nutritious?

The authorities have ensured that all kids are fed at school; whether this food is particularly healthy is a cause for concern even for the best school districts in usa.  Kids’ obesity rates are rising; visit a public high school and try counting the number of fat kids you see…it’s depressing. It’s no wonder when they are served trans fats, salts, sodas, and others for school lunch. Parents and students, using the schoolcity student websites, have formed groups to counter claims made by some parents that criticizing food is taking the “joy” out of school parties. What can be done about this?

Kristi Hammond

in Schools

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Jeremy Wood on June 8, 2018

It’s not just the nutritional value of the food being served in lunches in schools that matters but also where, how, and when it comes from. Things like pizza, burgers, patties, biscuits, etc, have been recommended for school children since the 1950s. However, it should be emphasized that in those days pizza wasn’t “bake and serve”; it was prepared in-house by knowledgeable cooks. The same can be said for biscuits and other items; it’s not a question of how many servings of grains or grams of saturated fat the food contains. Home-cooked items are the better option than industry food.

It’s common sense that if kids in public high schools were eating scratch-made food, then it wouldn’t contain added preservatives, artificial flavors, and colorings which form an inherent part of pre-cooked meals. It has to be understood that meals offered in the USA’s best school districts provide kids with half of their daily calories. What’s been given for lunch has a drastic effect on health and developing eating habits.

Initiatives encouraging school children to eat fresh, healthy foods should be pursued. If we’re going to succeed in conquering the obesity endemic, we need to help our kids develop healthy eating habits.

Get local farmers to touch schools: If school cafeterias were to start serving locally sourced foods, this would not only improve diets but would also enhance local economies. A good example is the Vermont state which has strongly embraced the Farm to School movement. This nationwide movement provides classroom curricula with food and nutrition information and provides local foods in school cafeterias.

No missing meals: Kids should be encouraged to take mealtimes seriously and understand the values of consuming good food. For example, in France schools have their students’ lunches cooked on the school premises in professional-grade kitchens; this country has one of Europe’s lowest childhood obesity rates. In the U.S, schools mostly have heat-and serve- kitchens. French school students are taught to take lunch seriously and encouraged to spend adequate time eating and socializing with their schoolmates.

Parents should get involved: SchoolCity Student is an impressive website enabling users to get in touch with students. Parents can use this website to stay in close contact with the school food service program. Parents and students should be actively involved in the decision-making procedures of school meals. If schools let students choose and change the menu, then they are in a better position to get them to start consuming healthier meals. 

Craig Stewarta year ago

The DOE should try developing a strategy in which all schools that are capable of totally cooking at least 70% of their meals, in the school kitchens, should receive an automatic meal reimbursement. These schools should also be encouraged to serve whole fruits and vegetables in school lunches! Schools should stop relying on industry for students’ meals…we, as parents, shouldn’t depend on industry for all our own meals either.

Schools should possess well-equipped kitchens. It’s a sad affair that cooking has suffered a decline in households and almost been killed in schools. Re-starting cooking in schools requires investment but there are a few schools doing it which means it’s not impracticable. The USDA should have flexible reimbursement requirements for fresh food cooked from scratch; this will reduce chances of schools making excuses for cooking procedures being too complicated. Adopting such a policy would enable school districts nationwide to produce foods which are both satisfactorily delicious as well as healthy.


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