In light of the fact that there seems to be so much
misperception regarding the importance of the nutrition initiative, I thought I
would spend some time to catch everyone up on what is going on. As, even though I have been involved in this for some time, I am also left confused.
The new government regulations have begun to take effect for our National School Lunch Program. (which also includes Breakfast) Rather than spend time explaining them, I will sum it up and attach the link for those that want more information. The new regulations, known as the Healthy
Hunger-Free Kids Act, seem to be getting much attention. The goal of this new Act is to have lunches that are more nutritional by adding fruits and vegetables and more whole grains. Ultimately there will be more involved, like grains needing to have a “whole grain” as its first component in a list of ingredients, and sodium levels that are below 700 mg per meal for the highschool and even lower for the elem and middle school. There is also now not only a minimum, but also a maximum, calorie limit per meal. Although this seems difficult, especially for the athletes that may need more than what is allotted, this does not mean that they cannot have more to eat, it just means they cannot have more in their reimbursable lunch. For example, it will cut down on a child having two hot dogs or cheese steaks, but they can have additional vegetables and fruits at no additional cost. Also for the athletes who need energy for practice or games later in the day, having a healthful snack, would probably help to curb hunger pangs. But having this lead to less kids buying lunch, is a possibility.
One benefit of these new regulations, is allowing creativity
and more push to create freshly prepared meals. Processed foods notoriously have high sodium levels and are filled with many unwanted chemicals and additives. It is recommended, as a way to control that, to cook your own food from fresh ingredients. Before we say “there is no time for cooking”
or “we do not have the equipment for cooking”, that is not the case, as there
were freshly prepared meals last year and with some practice, it ran smoothly,
and sold well. This year we are unfortunately back to almost all processed non nutritional foods. Considering that Food Service reported that we are down in sales from last year(same time frame), It seems that contrary to what some may believe, selling processed foods is not necessarily the answer to the financial issues at hand.
Since there have been many comments suggesting that there is
no need to do this stuff in schools, I wanted to share a link to address why
this issue of childhood obesity needs to be addressed, as it is affecting our national security.
As the first Newly reformulated Nutrition Advisory meeting took place this week , it was upsetting to see so many non- nutritional items being discussed as continuing or being added to the menu, even though there was no documentation to support that these items had ever sold well. So if it is not a top selling item and has a poor nutritional profile, why would it even be up for discussion?
I left the meeting very confused, as it seems that we never have ALL of the information needed to make the best educated decisions, but yet a vote is still taken, and decision is made. It would have of course been helpful to see the cost and ingredients (per meal) of every meal offered in the district, the profit margin and rebate information, as well as the sales (by location) information, but yet it seems like we never have any of that information available, and we continue to make decisions blindly. When decisions are made without all of the information, we all know it just leads to more problems.