School lunch rules for healthier meals get mixed reviews from students

One student complains because his cafeteria no longer serves chicken nuggets. Another gripes that her school lunch just isn’t filling. A third student says he’s happy to eat an extra apple with his lunch, even as he’s noshing on his own sub, the Associated Press reports. Leaner, greener school lunches served under new federal standards are getting mixed grades from students piling more carrots, more apples and fewer fatty foods on their trays.

“Now they’re kind of forcing all the students to get the vegetables and fruit with their lunch, and they took out chicken nuggets this year, which I’m not too happy about,” said Chris Cimino, a senior at Mohonasen High School in upstate New York.

Lunch lines at schools across the country cut through the garden now, under new U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition standards. Mohonasen students selecting pizza sticks this week also had to choose something from the lunch line’s cornucopia of apples, bananas, fresh spinach and grape tomatoes, under the standards. Calorie counts are capped, too……Read More

School lunches get a 21st-century makeover

School cafeterias are using cutting-edge market research to help get kids to eat healthy.

“Woohoo! It’s tater tot day!” might be a phrase of the past, thanks to new updates in federal guidelines regulating school lunch programs—the first in 15 years.

With new limits on calories, sodium, and saturated fats, as well as increases in minimums for fruits and vegetables, schools are revisiting their nutrition management. Thankfully, there are software programs, apps, and websites available to help schools, parents, and students make the transition successfully.

The updated federal guidelines were devised by the Agriculture Department and spurred by celebrity campaigns such as Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution” to rethink school lunch components and Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” to fight childhood obesity. They aim to improve the National School Lunch program by combating obesity, nutrition deficits, and hunger.…Read More

Healthy school lunch changes may face parent, student backlash

With students nationwide set to be introduced to a revamped school lunch menu this fall, Long Island school nutrition directors are scrambling to meet the new federal requirements and anticipating backlash from kids and parents alike, the Huffington Post reports. The changes are part of a healthy school lunch initiative put forth in January by first lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. New guidelines establish calorie and sodium limits for meals, require schools to offer a wider selection of fruits and vegetables and mandate all milk be 1 percent or nonfat. Requirements for the use of whole grains are also being phased in. Additionally, in order for a school lunch to qualify as a “reimbursable meal” or be eligible for a free or reduced price, students must have a fruit or vegetable on their tray, according to the Observer-Dispatch. Previously, students needed only to take three of the five items offered. The new federal demands represent the first major nutritional overhaul of school meals in over 15 years…

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Pictures on lunch trays help students pick and eat their vegetables

Getting young children to eat their servings of fruits and veggies, particularly in school, has been a long and hard struggle for parents, schools and lawmakers over the years. But a new study suggests that a quick fix could be as simple as showing kids some pictures, the Huffington Post reports. In the first move of its kind in over 15 years, the government last week announced new guidelines to ensure students are given healthier options for school meals. The new standards call for more whole grains and produce as well as less sodium and fat in school meals. While the measures mark a step forward from previous years, they still compromise amid push-back from Congress to keep pizza and french fries on the menu–counting both the tomato paste on pizza and the potatoes that make fries as vegetables. But children might not have to be forced by the law or school to eat their fruits and vegetables. According to research published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, students who were given visual hints were more likely to choose and eat their vegetables…

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USDA sets guidelines for healthier school meals

School meals for millions of children will be healthier under obesity-fighting U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) standards unveiled on Wednesday that double the fruits and vegetables in cafeteria lunches – but won’t pull French fries from the menu, Reuters reports. In the first major changes to school breakfasts and lunches in more than 15 years, the new USDA guidelines will affect nearly 32 million children who eat at school. They will cost the federal government about $3.2 billion to implement over the next five years.

“Improving the quality of the school meals is a critical step to building a healthy future for our kids,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement…

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School bans sweets to fight childhood obesity

Five-year-olds dance hip-hop to the alphabet. Third-graders learn math by twisting into geometric shapes, fifth-graders by calculating calories. And everyone goes to the gym–every day, the Associated Press reports. In the middle of America’s heartland, a small public school, Northeast Elementary Magnet School, has taken on a hefty task–reversing obesity. And it’s won a gold medal for it, becoming the first elementary school in the country to receive that award from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The cafeteria here serves fresh fruit and veggies, low-fat or no-fat milk, no sodas or fried foods and no gooey desserts. There are no sweets on kids’ birthdays and food is never used as a reward…

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