Earlier this year the USDA released their "Historic Improvements to Meals Served in America’s Schools." Many parents and educators are enthusiastic about the changes. As the USDA press release indicates...
The final standards make the same kinds of practical changes that many parents are already encouraging at home, including:
- Ensuring students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week;
- Substantially increasing offerings of whole grain-rich foods;
- Offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties;
- Limiting calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size; and
- Increasing the focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats, and sodium.
The hope is that not only will children become healthier, but they will build healthy habits. Learning ZoneXpress (LZX) supports any move towards healthy habits and healthy learning about nutrition with a range of products that more explicitly detail the healthy choices that are being made. For example portion control - it's great to alter portion sizes based on age - but without explanation the change may go unnoticed. It's a teachable moment, gone. We advocate for making those lessons clear to students, teacher, parents - everyone!
LZX is also pleased to see that the changes will not be confined to the lunchroom - but will have an impact on food available throughout the school and is supported in the budget...
In addition to the updated meal standards, unprecedented improvements to come include:
- The ability to take nutrition standards beyond the lunch line for the first time ever, foods and beverages sold in vending machines and other venues on school campuses will also contribute to a healthy diet;
- Increased funding for schools – an additional 6 cents a meal is the first real increase in 30 years – tied to strong performance in serving improved meals;
- Common-sense pricing standards for schools to ensure that revenues from non-Federal sources keep pace with the Federal commitment to healthy school meals and properly align with costs; and
- Training and technical assistance to help schools achieve and monitor compliance.
The investment in our kids will pay off - tomorrow, next year, and hopefully in continuing generations.