Washington –Whether your children are served healthy school lunches may depend on where you live, a new report shows. The national School Lunch Report Card, issued today by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, reveals a surprising divide between school districts. PCRM dietitians analyzed the elementary school meals available at 22 of the largest districts participating in the National School Lunch Program.

"If your family lives in San Diego; Fairfax, Va.; Charlotte, N.C.; or Pinellas County, Fla., your child will find healthy vegetarian options most days of the week," says PCRM dietitian Dulcie Ward, R.D. "But if your home is in Atlanta; St. Louis; Omaha, Neb.; or Anchorage, Alaska, your child may have a tough time finding healthy food. The federal government spent more than $8 billion on the National School Lunch Program last year, but many taxpayers aren´t getting their money´s worth." More than 30 million children participate in the program.

Despite the ever-worsening childhood obesity epidemic, PCRM´s review shows that many menus are still packed with such unhealthy options as foot-long hotdogs and "Colossal Burgers" and are short on nutritious vegetarian dishes. On a positive note, a growing number of districts are offering soymilk, calcium-enriched juices, and bottled water as alternatives to dairy milk. Cow´s milk is the leading source of saturated fat in children´s diets.

2007 School Lunch Report Card

School District Score Grade
Pinellas County Schools (Florida) 94 A
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (North Carolina) 92 A-
Fairfax County Public Schools (Virginia) 92 A-
San Diego Unified School District (California) 92 A-
Miami-Dade County Public Schools (Florida) 89 B+
Montgomery County Public Schools (Maryland) 87 B+
Oakland Unified School District (California) 84 B
Sacramento City Unified School District (California) 84 B
Volusia County Schools (Florida) 84 B
DeKalb County Schools (Georgia) 80 B-
Capistrano Unified School District (California) 79 C+
Davis School District (Utah) 77 C+
Santa Ana Unified School District (California) 75 C
Milwaukee Public Schools (Wisconsin) 72 C-
Orange County Public Schools (Florida) 67 D+
Atlanta Public Schools (Georgia) 67 D+
Omaha Public Schools (Nebraska) 66 D
Anchorage School District (Alaska) 60 F
Hancock County Schools (West Virginia) 59 F

Ysleta Independent School District (Texas) 58 F
Jordan County School District (Utah) 56 F
St. Louis Public Schools (Missouri) 53 F

This year´s Most Improved Award goes to Oakland Unified School District, which bumped its score a full grade since last year.

For a copy of the full report, or an interview with a PCRM nutrition expert, please contact Ms. Simon Chaitowitz at 202-686-2210, ext. 309, or simonc@pcrm.org.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, especially good nutrition. PCRM also conducts clinical research studies, opposes unethical human experimentation, and promotes alternatives to animal research.

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RELATED LINKS:

* School Lunch Report Cards:
http://www.healthyschoollunches.org/reports/index.html

* Guide to Healthy School Meals for Grades K-12 (PDF) http://www.healthyschoollunches.org/resources/guide_healthy_school_meals.pdf

* Healthy School Lunches Web site
http://www.healthyschoollunches.org/

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