The school lunch program has been controversial for the last couple of years for a number of reasons. There are so many problems but a couple stand out. First, the politics of it all are discussed in the following article.
But another problem has been occurring – our kids don’t like the new foods being introduced. As one parent pointed out: “my kid just won’t eat cold, tasteless vegetables – would you?” This blog has repeatedly said that education of our kids on the reasons why these foods are healthier for them and techniques for involving them in their food choices are the best way to help alleviate this problem. Another necessary approach is to teach the food preparers how to make these food items more palatable and appealing. I’m not a fan of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics due to its corporate ties, but sometimes they do present some good advice. Here is a direct quote from their website, eatright.com.
The Academy’s School Nutrition Services dietetic practice group has more than 1,200 members, working in school districts, federal and state agencies, business and industry, and colleges and universities, all dedicated to the integrity and promotion of school meal programs and the advancement of sound nutrition for children.
With the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, SNS members make sure students are exposed to and can learn about nutritious foods served as part of school meal programs. For example:
“We have a farm-to-school approach to nutrition education that links the classroom, dining center and school garden. A featured food of the month and locally procured items are highlighted on the menu, and schools can grow and harvest produce for the dining center. Classroom teachers are also integrating nutrition education into Common Core.” – Tarrah DeClemente, MPH, RDN, LDN, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, Ill.
“With the Pick a Better Snack program in Iowa, students are very willing to try new foods when presented in a fun learning environment. When kids learn about the foods they are trying, play games and see their classmates trying the fresh fruit and vegetable snacks, students usually do try the snack, and most often times like them.” – Abbie Scott, RD, LD, Jackson Elementary and Howe Elementary, Des Moines, Iowa.
“We collaborate with a local nonprofit to provide taste tests in elementary school cafeterias, as well in the classroom of two elementary schools in our county. The classroom nutrition education is part of the Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Program that provides funding for fresh produce as well as lesson plans.” – Mary Andreae MS, RD, LDN, Buncombe County Schools, Ashville NC.
Search this blog for “school lunch” for other approaches to this problem if it ever becomes solvable.