FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner
The School Food Revolution: The Healthy Changes in School Cafeterias You Haven’t Seen on TV
National Harbor, MD (April 13, 2011) – Despite limited resources and rising food costs, school nutrition programs across the country have made tremendous progress in offering healthier meals in school cafeterias. But don’t expect to see these successes on television – good news about school meals just doesn’t bring in the ratings.
School Nutrition Association’s 2010 Back to School Trends Report found that schools are serving more whole grains and fresh produce, while working to reduce added sodium and sugar in foods served on the lunch line. Many school districts are bringing in more locally-grown produce, encouraging extra helpings of fruits and vegetables or offering salad bars. To get kids excited about these healthy choices, schools are experimenting with kids cooking competitions, partnerships with local chefs and nutrition education programs.
Many schools are cooking up more menu items from scratch, and schools with limited ability to scratch cook, due to staffing, equipment or cost challenges, are using higher quality pre-prepared foods. Food companies have been using leaner meats, more whole grains and less salt and sugar to make the pre-prepared foods served in schools healthier than ever. These days, baked sweet potato “fries” or wedges are common choices, while school pizza is often served on whole grain crust with low-fat cheese and low-sodium sauce. Meanwhile, local dairies have been working with school nutrition programs to reduce the fat and sugar in flavored milk choices, which leading health and nutrition organizations support keeping in schools.
These changes are being achieved through the perseverance of school nutrition professionals who must contend with paltry budgets, burdensome regulations, strict food safety standards or insufficient equipment and support. Often, critics of school nutrition programs and advocates for healthier food choices fail to acknowledge these cost constraints and the complexity of the rules governing the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.
Over the next several weeks, School Nutrition Association will issue a series of articles highlighting the School Food Revolution occurring nationwide and the ways schools have raised the bar for school meals.
SNA, (http://www.schoolnutrition.org ) the School Nutrition Association, is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 53,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. Founded in 1946, the Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals.
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