Posts Tagged ‘ school lunch ’

Why Recess HELPS Kids Eat Fruits and Veggies

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

School lunch trayIn recent years, some schools have been reducing recess hours — or eliminating it altogether, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics has advocated for schools to keep schoolyard play. Despite support from the AAP, some elementary schools (like these 23 schools in Florida) are still cutting back on playtime in favor of study time…to meet Common Core standards.

But a new study, published in Preventative Medicine, reveals two great reasons for schools to keep recess: Kids who have recess before lunch are more likely to eat (and finish!) fruits and veggies — which means they’re less likely to waste food.

Researchers studied seven elementary schools (grades 1-6) in Orem, Utah and focused on kids who enrolled in the federally-funded school lunch program (which requires that kids eat either a fruit or veggie). Of the seven schools, three had recess before lunch and four had recess after lunch. Over a few days in the spring and fall of 2011, the researchers measured the serving amount of fruits and vegetables that students threw away in the trash. The scientists recorded a total of 22,939 observations. HealthDay reports:

In the schools that held recess before lunch, students’ consumption of fruits and vegetables rose 54 percent. There also was a 45 percent increase in the number of students who ate at least one serving of fruits and vegetables.

Meanwhile, students’ consumption of fruits and vegetables decreased at the schools that still held recess after lunch.

“[W]e found that if recess is held before lunch, students come to lunch with healthy appetites and less urgency and are more likely to finish their fruits and vegetables,” said David Just, a co-author of the study. On the flip side, when recess is held after lunch, kids are more like to rush through eating (and waste more food) in order to play.

And according to a 2013 Harvard University study, students throw away around $1.2 billion in food every year. This is an astounding number, especially given America’s hunger crisis.

There are also other benefits of keeping recess; other studies have shown that recess promotes physical activity, creative and imaginative play, a readiness to learn, better social skills, and less bullying. Even though one mom has her doubts about having recess before lunch, all the combined factors still make up a good list of reasons why schools should keep recess.

Lunch Monitor: What Are Kids Throwing Away?
Lunch Monitor: What Are Kids Throwing Away?
Lunch Monitor: What Are Kids Throwing Away?

Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea

Image: School lunch tray via Shutterstock

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Connecticut Considers School Chocolate Milk Ban

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Connecticut legislators have sent to the governor a measure that would prohibit public schools from offering chocolate milk and some juices to children, citing the beverages’ links to imbalanced nutrition when it comes to fat, salt, and sugar.  More from CBS News:

If he signs it, Connecticut would be the first state in the country — not just a single school district –to ban chocolate milk in school cafeterias. The law would go into effect next September.

Politicians in the state faced pressure to pass school nutrition rules or risk forfeiting funds from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a federal policy that sets requirements for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Nutrition Programs, which includes its school lunch program. However, the USDA points out that the Act does not ban individual food items. A USDA spokesperson told CBS News that it does require flavored milks to be non-fat.

Under the state proposal, schools in Connecticut would only be allowed to serve low-fat, unflavored milk and beverages without artificial sweeteners, added sodium or more than four grams of sugar per ounce.

Chocolate milk contains high fructose corn syrup and up to 200 milligrams of sodium, which means it won’t make the cut.

Some child nutritionists think the proposed law will backfire and jeopardize the health of children in the state. Jill Castle, a registered dietician and nutritionist from New Canaan, Conn., told CBS affiliate WFSB that when chocolate milk is removed from the cafeteria the overall consumption of milk goes down.

“From a nutrient profile, you’re getting calcium, vitamin D, potassium, phosphorous, protein, and other nutrients,” said Castle.

But some food experts disagree. Marlene Schwartz, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, says the ban means that the food industry will simply need to adjust.

“This isn’t going to keep out flavored milk,” Schwartz told the Hartford Courant. “All it’s going to do it make sure the flavored milk that’s in there is not going to have added salt.”

Make mornings easier with our Healthy Breakfast On-The-Go guide.

Nutrition Labels: 3 Things To Avoid
Nutrition Labels: 3 Things To Avoid
Nutrition Labels: 3 Things To Avoid

Image: Chocolate milk, via Shutterstock

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Mom Covers School Lunch Fees for High School Class

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

A Michigan mom whose son was allegedly denied a school lunch because his account was empty decided to pay the outstanding balances on the accounts of each and every student in the high school to spare others the embarrassment her son suffered.  Headline News has more:

“I realize I didn’t have to do that but I don’t want another kid going through what my son went through,” Amanda Keown told CNN affiliate WBND.

The total amount she had to fork over was less than $100 — a price she said was totally worth it to save other students from going through what her son, Dominic Gant, experienced.

“It was really embarrassing, especially in front of the whole class,” Gant told WBND. The junior said his lunch was taken away by school officials right after it was served to him, all because he had an outstanding balance of less than $5 in his account.

HLN has reached out to Dowagiac Union Schools but has yet to receive a comment. The principal of Dowagiac Union High School spoke to WBND and said that the teen shouldn’t have gone hungry.

“There’s no reason why a student should ever go without lunch, even if they have overdrawn their account. They can seek out one of the adults in the lunchroom and ask for permission to charge for another day,” Pieter Hoekstra said.

Hoekstra explained that a private contractor runs the lunch program so there isn’t much flexibility with payments because if the accounts go unpaid, the school is left holding the bill. He also said that the school regularly communicates with parents about the balances left on their kids’ lunch accounts.

Image: Cafeteria hot lunch, via Shutterstock

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School Meal Standards Are Working, Harvard Researchers Say

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

New federal school meal standards, established in 2012, that require schools to offer healthier choices to students appear to have had a measurable, positive impact on fruit and vegetable consumption among U.S. school children.

“There is a push from some organizations and lawmakers to weaken the new standards. We hope the findings, which show that students are consuming more fruits and vegetables, will discourage those efforts,” said lead author Juliana Cohen, research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, which conducted a study that examined food consumption both before and after the new standards were implemented.

Some 32 million students eat school meals every day; for many low-income students, up to half their daily energy intake is from school meals. Under the previous dietary guidelines, school breakfasts and lunches were high in sodium and saturated fats and were low in whole grains and fiber. The new standards from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) aimed to improve the nutritional quality of school meals by making whole grains, fruits, and vegetables more available, requiring the selection of a fruit or vegetable, increasing the portion sizes of fruits and vegetables, removing trans fats, and placing limits on total calories and sodium levels.

The researchers collected plate waste data among 1,030 students in four schools in an urban, low-income school district both before (fall 2011) and after (fall 2012) the new standards went into effect. Following the implementation of the new standards, fruit selection increased by 23.0%; entrée and vegetable selection remained unchanged. In addition, consumption of vegetables increased by 16.2%; fruit consumption was unchanged, but because more students selected fruit, overall, more fruit was consumed post-implementation.

Importantly, the new standards did not result in increased food waste, contradicting anecdotal reports from food service directors, teachers, parents, and students that the regulations were causing an increase in waste due to both larger portion sizes and the requirement that students select a fruit or vegetable. However, high levels of fruit and vegetable waste continued to be a problem—students discarded roughly 60%-75% of vegetables and 40% of fruits on their trays. The authors say that schools must focus on improving food quality and palatability to reduce waste.

“The new school meal standards are the strongest implemented by the USDA to date, and the improved dietary intakes will likely have important health implications for children,” wrote the researchers in a statement.

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Lunch Monitor: What Are Kids Throwing Away?
Lunch Monitor: What Are Kids Throwing Away?
Lunch Monitor: What Are Kids Throwing Away?

Image: Apple, via Shutterstock

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Lunches Taken from Elementary School Students Whose Bills Weren’t Paid

Friday, January 31st, 2014

As many as 40 children at a Salt Lake City elementary school had their school lunches taken away after the school discovered the children had outstanding balances on their lunch accounts, as The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

“It was pretty traumatic and humiliating,” said Erica Lukes, whose 11-year-old daughter had her cafeteria lunch taken from her as she stood in line Tuesday at Uintah Elementary School, 1571 E. 1300 South.

Lukes said as far as she knew, she was all paid up. “I think it’s despicable,” she said. “These are young children that shouldn’t be punished or humiliated for something the parents obviously need to clear up.”

Jason Olsen, a Salt Lake City District spokesman, said the district’s child-nutrition department became aware that Uintah had a large number of students who owed money for lunches.

As a result, the child-nutrition manager visited the school and decided to withhold lunches to deal with the issue, he said.

But cafeteria workers weren’t able to see which children owed money until they had already received lunches, Olsen explained.

The workers then took those lunches from the students and threw them away, he said, because once food is served to one student it can’t be served to another.

Children whose lunches were taken were given milk and fruit instead.

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Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids
Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids
Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids

Image: School lunch, via Shutterstock

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