A recently issued federal report shows school lunches are becoming healthier and more nutritious.
Nowadays, school lunches include salad bars, a significant improvement concerning American children’s health. Nationwide, approximately a third of schools have implemented this change, whereas, in 2014, 78 percent of schools had included in the children’s diet at least two fruits.
Health officials are concerned with the obesity epidemic that has struck America, so now they are wondering whether children will be responsive to the new school lunches, involving salads and fruits. Moreover, it has been widely known that obesity and poor eating habits might cause cardiovascular illnesses and diabetes.
Fortunately, obesity has decreased regarding young children and children coming from low-income homes, as of 2012, when childhood obesity had reached 17 percent.
Surveys show that fresh or frozen vegetables are used in approximately 50 percent of schools nowadays, instead of what was served in the past: canned vegetables and white bread.
Moreover, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, school cafeterias have been using low-sodium canned vegetables, if any, that they started cooking with herbs instead of salt, whereas low-sodium recipes were adopted. So, in order to promote and put to use healthy foods, sodium would need to be eliminated, for the most part, from school meals, so schools’ aims were to discover ways of enhancing flavors by reducing sodium.
Senior associate at the non-profit organization Food Trust in Philadelphia, Deb Bentzel, said that school lunches were currently healthier and fresher. She also reported that hot dogs were made from turkey and had less fat, whereas the school lunch tray would include legumes as well, such as peas and beans.
In schools from Philadelphia, snacks such as potato chips are baked, instead of fried, which decreases the caloric boost they would’ve brought upon children, whereas beverages such as sodas were excluded from the menu. Food portions were smaller, and all of these changes have been happening since 2004, according to Amy Virus, Philadelphia-based food service director of the school district.
Director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Margo Wootan, said that the improvements in school cafeterias were quite visible, as of the last three years. She reported that older, unhealthier foods had been removed from the children’s diet, including canned legumes, even though some children actually refuse some variants of the now healthy aliments.
Tom Frieden, the CDC’s Director, finally pointed out that progress had been made, and that school meals were truly healthier than in previous years, whereas the US Department of Agriculture explained that improvements can still be made, as
“many schools need new kitchen equipment to store, prepare, and serve fruits and vegetables.”
Photo Credits livewellmagazine.org