I’m sure you’ve heard about the big hullabaloo of late over the nutritional value of school lunches.
In one corner you have school officials and health advocates pushing for healthier meals; in the other, you have kids who won’t eat them and cooks frustrated over the new restrictions now placed on them.
Although I’m strongly entrenched in the “we need WAY healthier school lunches” camp, I do feel for both sides. Children need to eat and it’s criminal to watch so much uneaten food being thrown away. (I’ve dined in the cafeteria before and, I’m here to tell you, a LOT gets tossed each day.)
But instead of going back to hot dogs and “chicken-flavored” nuggets, I’d hope both sides could come together to reach a compromise.
There’s no question childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in this country, and our schools should be striving to help solve – not add to – the problem.
Get a load of these stats from a recent survey of 1,800 third through fifth graders in Texas:
- 46% ate fast food two or more times per week.
- Most did not understand that low-fat milk is a healthier choice than whole milk.
- Many did not understand that baked potato chips were a healthier choice than french fries.
- The majority incorrectly thought diet soda contained some sugar and sports drinks contained no sugar.
- The majority of children knew that consuming excess calories can lead to weight gain, but fewer knew that excess calories can also lead to heart disease.
But on a positive note:
- 87% expressed an interest in helping choose healthy foods for their school cafeteria.
- 88% reported that they would eat healthy breakfast items such as yogurt, oatmeal, fruit, granola and whole wheat toast if they were offered.
- When presented with a sample menu, children were equally likely to choose healthier options in place of less healthier options. For example, a turkey sandwich over chicken nuggets and a fruit cup or steamed veggies over fries or tater tots.
That’s progress, so we definitely need to keep pushing for more positive changes.