The new school nutrition meal standards are still in their infancy stage of implementation; however, they are already drawing some criticism. As you may recall, I recently wrote about the new enhancements to these standards, which include adding more availability of fruit, vegetables, whole grains to meals and reducing sodium levels. Another change to this new setof standards was setting a minimum and maximum calorie amount for on the age/grade category. These amounts were not pulled out of thin air. In fact, they are science-based standards and were calculated based on the Dietary Reference Intakes (energy, carbohydrates, fiber, fatty acids, fat, cholesterol and protein, amino acids).
Unfortunately, not everyone is on board with the new meal standards. Some believe that there should not be set a minimum and maximum amount on the calorie level on meals offered through the federal child nutrition programs as it may leave kids feeling hungry by the end of the day. This hunger may be based on a variety of reasons, including kids growing/developing, or early lunch hours, and not the calorie limits. Kids/teens do have the option to choose another serving of fruits and/or vegetables at meals. What these few may not realize is that Congress is broadening the scope of the Afterschool Meal Program to all states so schools can offers students involved in afterschool activities a snack or meal.
In a recent press release, Jim Weill, FRAC President, emphasized this point. “The new standards are an important step forward in efforts to remedy nutritional shortfalls in children’s diets and to help address the nation’s serious obesity problem as well as its serious hunger problem.”
Overall, the changes to the school nutrition standards are for the benefit of our kids. By eating healthy, tasty and nutrient –packed breakfasts, lunches and, in some states, dinner, they will excel academically.