Did you catch yesterday's ground breaking news about school lunches? The USDA announced new guidelines that increase the amount of fruits and vegetables that kids will have in their school meals while significantly decreasing the amount of fat.
Three cheers! This is the answer to our childhood obesity dilemma, right? Now kids all across America will be healthy. Right?
Not so fast. Sure the lunches will be healthier, but will kids eat them?
When I posted a snippet about the new guidelines on my Facebook page yesterday, I got lots of great feedback from folks who were applauding the new guidelines, but were also worried about how - and if - they would really work.
Jane Q from Virginia noted, "But will they eat it? As far as I know kids are on their own at lunch time --they can and do throw away the food they get (from home as well as from the cafeteria) Shouldn't lunch be part of the curriculum? Many kids need to learn about food --where it comes from, what is real food etc. and how what they eat affects their health and their future."
Jane is right. You can put all of the healthy food you want on a school lunch tray, but what good is it if it winds up in the trash. Chrissy C. from Pennsylvania was happy to report that healthy eating choices are part of her school district's K-4 Science curriculum, but the same can't be said for the rest of the country.
A few year's ago, I had a chat with the food service director for my school district's lunch program and she let me in on some of the "sneaky" ways she was trying to make school lunches healthier. It had to be sneaky, she said, not only to get it past the kids, but also to get it past the parents. She told me that she gets way more complaints from parents when she tries to take unhealthy foods off of the menu than she gets compliments for adding healthy items.
Krista L from New Hampshire reflected back to the "old days," when we were in elementary school together and Sister Marie Pauline stood near the garbage can at lunch to make sure you finished what was on your tray. "You did not want to get that "look" if you still had a full tray," she remembered.
Here's my 2 cents: I have never been fond of the argument that schools have to serve burgers and fries everyday at lunch because that's the only thing that kids will eat. Kids (and their parents) will probably grumble about these new regulations at first. But it won't take long before low-fat milk and an extra apple are the new norm. If that's what is available, then sooner or later, kids will eat it. And who knows, maybe those same kids that were grumbling will start going home and asking for bananas or oranges to have with dinner, too. I can dream, right?
What do you think about the USDA's new school lunch guidelines?
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