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A look at school lunches and the quality of food offered to children.

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1 A look at school lunches and the quality of food offered to children

2  A study of more than 1,000 sixth graders in several schools in southeastern Michigan found that those who regularly had the school lunch were 29 percent more likely to be obese than those who brought lunch from home.  “Most school lunches rely heavily on high-energy, low-nutrient-value food, because it’s cheaper,” said Dr. Kim A. Eagle, director of the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center, and senior author of the paper, published in the December issue of American Heart Journal. In some schools where the study was done, lunch programs offered specials like “Tater Tot Day,” he said.University of Michiganthe paper

3  The National School Lunch Program (NSLP), which began under President Harry Truman in 1946, provides daily hot meals to nearly 31 million American children. That’s well over 5 billion lunches per year at an average cost of $2.68—30 cents below the cost of production.1 School lunch provides one third of children’s daily calories and nutrition. This government-subsidized program is a convenience for some but a necessity for the 19 million children who receive free or reduced-priced lunches. For many, it’s the most nutritious meal of the day.  The NSLP has been permanently authorized by Congress, but its regulations are updated every five years under the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act. Advocates lobbied Congress to make updates in September 2009, but action was postponed until this September. In the eyes of advocates such as Chef Ann Cooper, school lunch reformer and author of Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children, regulations have remained largely the same since 1990 and need swift and serious reform.  So how are districts faring in the current landscape, what changes are on the horizon to reform school lunches, and what opportunities may await foodservice professionals in the new regulatory landscape?

4  Existing Regulations Existing NSLP regulations state that over a five-day school week, the average school lunch must meet eight basic nutritional targets, including total fat content below 30%, saturated fat content below 10%, and one third or more of the Recommended Daily Allowances of calories, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium.1  A number of comprehensive studies suggest that many schools have not caught up with even the 1990 regulations. The USDA’s “School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study-III,” published in November 2007, indicated that 85% of schools served lunches that met the current vitamin and mineral requirements but exceeded the limits for total fat by 4% and saturated fat by 1%. The U.S. General Accounting Office released a report in May 2003, “School Lunch Program: Efforts Needed to Improve Nutrition and Encourage Healthy Eating,” indicating that some schools have made “measurable progress” but most require additional improvements in both food and nutrition education.

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6  Limited access to healthy food has the potential to have significant impact on a child’s health and wellness.  Students who face health problems due to obesity experience greater absenteeism, as they are 4 times more likely to miss school  Other studies also show a link between poor nutrition and student attention, behavior and test scores

7  Under-nutrition increases how often and how long a child may be sick. In addition to being absent from school, illness limits learning as sick children do not interact well with others.  Under-nourished children lack things that make healthy children successful. Poorly nourished children tend to be less physically active, less curious, less attentive, less independent, less responsive socially, and more anxious. These traits keep them from developing reading, verbal, and physical skills, among others.  Iron deficiency and anemia occur among large numbers of children. Anemic children do not do well on math, reading, vocabulary, problem-solving, or psychological tests. Even mild iron deficiency causes fatigue and a shortened attention span.

8  Compared with kids who brought lunch from home, those who ate school lunches:  Were more likely to be overweight or obese (38.2% vs. 24.7%)  Were more likely to eat two or more servings of fatty meats like fried chicken or hot dogs daily (6.2% vs. 1.6%)  Were more likely to have two or more sugary drinks a day (19% vs. 6.8%)  Were less likely to eat at least two servings of fruits a day (32.6% vs. 49.4%)  Were less likely to eat at least two servings of vegetables a day (39.9% vs. 50.3%)  Had higher levels of LDL "bad" cholesterol

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10 Don’t forget: You can copy- paste this slide into other presentations, and move or resize the poll.

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12  Health Standard 5: Decision Making  *SPORTS! – For middle-high school aged students  * Teach the students the rules of a sport and engage them in this sport  * As the student learns how to make decisions in this sport, (i.e. from choosing his team to whether or not to steal a base with the next pitch) the student will begin to realize the consequences of his choices.  * Compare the decisions made in sports to the decisions we make about our health; the long and short term effects of the decisions we make.  Health Standard 8: Health Promotion  LANGUAGE ARTS –  *Keep a food journal of meals eaten at home.  * Compare meals eaten at home to the My Plate chart and summarize the differences, positive and negative between the eating behaviors at home and the ideal eating behaviors recommended on Choosemyplate.gov.  Have the student identify how he can make better food choices including the choices he makes at school.

13  Alliance for a healthier generation  Healthy school lunches  US Government benefits to help school lunch programs become more healthy

14  The U.S. Department of Agriculture today published a proposed rule to update the nutrition standards for meals served through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 13,  The new proposed meal requirements will raise standards for the first time in fifteen years and will make critical changes to school meals and help improve the health and nutrition of nearly 32 million kids that participate in school meal programs every school day

15  1. U.S Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service. National school lunch program. August Available at :  2. U.S. General Accounting Office. Efforts needed to improve nutrition and encourage healthy eating. May Available at:  3. Society for Nutrition Education. State of nutrition education & promotion for children & adolescents: Executive summary Available at:  4. Briggs M, Safaii S, Beall DL, et al. Position of the American Dietetic Association, Society for Nutrition Education, and American School Food Service Association—Nutrition services: An essential component of comprehensive school health programs. J Am Diet Assoc. 2003;103(4):  5. Institute of Medicine. School meals: Building blocks for healthy children. October Available at: Meals/School%20Meals%202009%20%20Report%20Brief.pdf Meals/School%20Meals%202009%20%20Report%20Brief.pdf  program/ program/    xml xml  


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