Tag Archives: school lunch

What’s happening now: how new federal regulations are changing school lunch menus

FoodFacts.com is happy to report that as our children are getting ready to go back to school, or are already beginning their new academic year, there are many changes happening in their cafeterias nationwide. Those changes aren’t just happening to the menus offered in our schools, they’re also affecting how school lunch workers are approaching their jobs … which may just turn out to be the key to instilling healthier eating habits in cafeterias.

Here are the basics of the changes you can expect:

• Maximum weekly calorie and sodium limits have been established for different student age groups. The limits for sodium intake are being gradually phased in over the coming decade, but there are changes that have been made for this school year. Establish maximum calorie and sodium limits for meals. The sodium limits are phased in over 10 years.

•Schools must now serve a fruit and vegetable every day at lunch and in larger portions than offered before. Portion sizes vary by age group. For instance, high school students will have to be offered one cup of vegetables and one cup of fruit a day.

•Additionally, they must now offer a minimum number of leafy green vegetables, red/orange vegetables, starchy vegetables and legumes per week. These serving sizes will also vary by student age – in high school, kids must be offered at least half a cup.

• After the second year of the new regulations, all grains offered to students must be rich in whole grains such as brown rice. Breads, buns, cereals and pastas must list whole grain as the first ingredient.

• Flavored milk, such as chocolate, must now be fat-free.

•There can be no trans fat at all in any foods offered.

Of course, you’ll still be seeing some familiar items on the menus … there will be cheese pizza and submarine sandwiches … but these offerings will be prepared using whole wheat dough and whole wheat rolls. And, unfortunately, French fries wills still count as a vegetable – but they will be baked or roasted and not fried and will have less salt on them than before. And none of the new regulations deal with ingredient lists or preservatives(excepting the exclusion of products containing trans fat), but it is at least a starting point that can be built on in the coming years.

The good news is that the School Nutrition Association has been holding conferences for cafeteria workers to help them take an active role in student lunch choices. Here they are being encouraged to actively motivate kids to make healthier choices on the lunch line. Part of that will be marketing the food to the children. Everything from how the food is laid out on the line and how it is labeled will hopefully be very different. For instance, give the vegetable of the day a more interesting name than just the vegetable itself so that the label holds more attraction for the students. Place baskets of fruits and veggies by the checkout – instead of unhealthier options. There’s research that proves that kids are more apt to pick up the grab and go item at the checkout than when it’s placed elsewhere. But most importantly, the workers are being encouraged to speak with the kids about the foods being offered that day … to promote them by interacting with the kids, just as though they were the wait staff at a restaurant promoting daily specials to customers.

Overall, FoodFacts.com thinks these efforts are a wonderful beginning for our kids in the cafeteria line. After all, what good is revamping the lunch choices if those choices remain uneaten? With better choices and a little encouragement, we may very well see kids at every grade level becoming more adventurous with their lunch line selections. And it’s possible that as the program moves forward, we can advocate for further regulations regarding the products chosen based on their ingredient lists.

Read more:
http://yourlife.usatoday.com/fitness-food/diet-nutrition/story/2012-01-25/Government-requires-more-fruits-veggies-for-school-lunches/52779404/1
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/16/school-lunch-quiz_n_1790435.html#quiz_4390
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/20/back-to-school-what-stude_n_1812994.html?utm_hp_ref=food&ir=Food
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20120821/us-back-to-school-lunches/

Food for Thought: Pink Slime

FoodFacts.com will be tackling the topic of pink slime today.

 

Pink slime, also known as lean finely textured beef (LFTB), has been making headlines recently compliments of the controversy surrounding its usage in fast food and school lunches. This meat filler, as some may know, is used in roughly 70% of all ground beef.

 

Pink slime is nothing new – it’s been used for years in meats. However, not many people may know as much. It earned the nickname “pink slime” several years ago, when a microbiologist referred to LFTB as such in an email. The topic has recently been picked up thanks to a campaign against pink slime by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

 

What is pink slime? In short, it’s ammonia-treated beef. While many people think cleaning products when they think ammonia, ammonium hydroxide was actually cleared for usage in food products back in the 1970s. It is used in meats to remove things such as salmonella and e-coli.

 

As many of you, especially our Facebook followers, are aware, the foods we consume typically contain ingredients we may have never even considered or known about. This is just another example of not really knowing what exactly is going into our bodies.

 

That being said, deciding whether or not LFTB should be eaten essentially falls on the consumer. Making yourself aware of the issue, and educating yourself on the topic itself, you should be able to make your own informed decision. Is it safe? Is it unsafe? Is it gross? Those are questions one has to answer for themselves. But the basic facts are these:

 

-         Pink slime is nothing new. In fact, we’ve been consuming it for years.

-         Pink slime is ammonia-treated beef.

-         Ammonium hydroxide has been approved for use in foods for 40+ years.

-         Ammonia is used to remove salmonella and e-coli.

 

However, just some food for thought. There are plenty of products that have been okayed for consumption (think artificial colors), which are plenty controversial because of unknown effects. That’s not to say this is necessarily bad for you, but it’s something to certainly consider.

 

As for its use in fast food and school lunches, pink slime has been eliminated from many fast food items. As for school lunches, the easiest way to avoid such products if so chosen is to send kids to school with homemade lunches. That’s not to say the controversial item won’t be removed from school lunches, but it’s an option to keep in mind to put parents at ease.

 

FoodFacts.com would like to wish you the best!

Food Industries Pressuring Congress to Scrap New Healthy School Lunch Guidelines

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Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed common-sense nutrition guidelines to improve school lunches and breakfasts, including more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk and less salt, unhealthy fats, and calories. So you thought all that news about Congress passing a new Child Nutrition Bill meant that we had solved the problem of junk food in our schools, right?

Think again.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the french fry industry and other food groups are pressuring Congress to scrap the USDA’s new healthy school lunch rules and start from scratch. They write:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed common-sense nutrition guidelines to improve school lunches and breakfasts, including more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk and less salt, unhealthy fats, and calories.

If industry is successful in convincing the Senate to do the same, the goal of seeing healthy school lunches in cafeterias across the country will be in serious jeopardy.

Click here to find out how you can tell Congress not to cave to the food industry lobbyists.

(TakePart.com)

LA School District Bans Flavored Milk

chocolate-milk

Jamie Oliver has set forth a new generation of revamping school lunches. As seen in the first season of his popular TV show, “Food Revolution”, Oliver first modified school lunches in Huntington, West Virginia. This community was deemed by the CDC as one of the top unhealthiest cities in America, with high rates of obesity, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. The main concept of this revolution was to get rid of sodium-packed processed foods, and bring in fresh foods made on site with loads of fruits and vegetables.

This year Jamie Oliver focused his attention on the Los Angeles School District. Below is an article from Los Angeles Times revealing their latest triumph.

L.A. Unified removes flavored milk from menus

The Los Angeles school district becomes by far the largest in the country to do so, as part of its effort to make school food healthier and help combat childhood obesity.

The Los Angeles Unified School District on Tuesday, with a 5-2 vote on a new dairy contract, became by far the largest district in the country to remove flavored milk from its menus, part of its effort to make school food healthier and help combat childhood obesity.

The milk issue has overshadowed other changes in the district’s food services division, which serves 650,000 meals a day at 1,000 sites. A menu overhaul is underway that will mean fewer meals that resemble fast food and more vegetarian offerings. Spinach tortellini in butternut squash sauce and California sushi rolls, along with many ethnic foods, are to be added. Corn dogs, chicken nuggets and other breaded items are out, said Dennis Barrett, food services director.

“Absolutely, by the fall the district will be a national leader,” said Matthew Sharp, senior advocate with the California Food Policy Advocates, who has long worked on school food reform.

The Board of Education does not generally vote on individual menu items, but it weighed in on flavored milk because it must approve large contracts. The board approved a five-year, $100-million dairy contract Tuesday that excludes chocolate and strawberry milk. It includes low-fat and nonfat plain milk as well as soy and Lactaid milks.

L.A. Unified, the nation’s second-largest district behind New York City, has been in the forefront among large urban districts in the effort to improve cafeteria food. The district banned sodas on campuses in 2004, starting a trend followed by the state and districts across the country. Later that year, the school board passed a motion to ban the sale of junk food during the school day by restricting the calories and fat content in snack foods. It also endorsed farm-to-school programs and called for more produce to be served.

And in 2005, the board approved the Cafeteria Improvement Motion, which required that foods have less salt, banned added trans-fats and limited saturated fats.

Not every initiative has panned out. A call for salad bars at all schools “where facilities permit” has left many campuses without them. And some school food activists and others say the cafeterias still have a long way to go.

Among his first acts as superintendent in April, John Deasy appeared on Jimmy Kimmel’s TV talk show with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to say he would propose eliminating flavored milk.

Responding to Tuesday’s decision, Oliver said, “This is a giant step forward for the health and future of 680,000 kids in Los Angeles, and leads the way for more school districts around the country to follow.” Oliver set his recent “Food Revolution” reality TV series in Los Angeles, and, among other things, loaded a school bus with sand to demonstrate students’ sugar consumption.

Parents and others have also lobbied against chocolate and strawberry milk, saying flavored milk contains unnecessary added sugar in a county where about one in three kids is overweight or obese.

Board member Tamar Galatzan, who voted against the plain-milk contract, suggested that the district was letting “a TV chef who’s trying to get publicity” dictate the decision.

“I think we are demonizing milk,” Galatzan said. The juice the district serves at breakfast has more sugar than flavored milk, she said.

Board member Yolie Flores, who voted in favor of the contract, said students tell her that food is their No. 1 issue at school, and she wondered how it can be appealing and healthy when the district has “77 pathetic cents” to spend on food per meal.

A cup of fat-free chocolate milk served in L.A. Unified has 120 calories, with 20 grams (80 calories) of sugar. Strawberry fat-free milk has 130 calories, with 26 grams of sugar. White, plain nonfat milk has 90 calories, with 12 grams of sugar. (Milk contains some natural sugar in the form of lactose.) For comparison, a cup of Coke has 26 grams of sugar.

Emily Ventura, a research fellow at USC’s Childhood Obesity Research Center, said a child who chooses a school breakfast of sweetened cereal, chocolate milk, coffee cake and juice would eat 51 grams, or 204 calories, of added sugar.

Some flavored-milk advocates say students won’t drink milk at all if chocolate or strawberry isn’t offered. Julie Buric, vice president of marketing for the Milk Processors Education Program, cited an industry-funded study that shows milk consumption can drop 35% when flavored milk disappears. And in January the dairy industry held a seminar for California cafeteria workers called “Keep Flavored Milk From Dropping Out of School.”

About 60% of the milk taken by students is flavored, and some officials as well as the dairy industry say plain-milk-only policies could keep kids from the lunch lines altogether. Students are required to take three of the four items offered for breakfast and four of the five at lunch in order for school districts to receive reimbursements from the federal School Lunch Program and breakfast program.

The district needs to attract students to the cafeteria with an effective campaign that will introduce students to the new menu items and explain why flavored milk has disappeared, said Sharp of California Food Policy Advocates.

Megan Bomba, a project coordinator with Occidental College’s Urban and Environmental Policy Institute, agreed, saying “the meal needs to be better, not [that] we need to keep chocolate milk” to attract students to the cafeteria, she said.

The menu proposed for fall sounds more appealing and sophisticated, she added.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs school food programs and promotes the dairy industry, allows flavored milk in reimbursable school meals. New York City schools serve chocolate milk. Berkeley, Compton and San Diego as well as Boulder, Colo., Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., have eliminated flavored milk with at least some meals.

(Los Angeles Times – June 15 2011)

Coming Soon? Healthier School Lunches

Healthy School Lunch | Foodfacts.com

Healthy School Lunch | Foodfacts.com

Senate Approves $4.5 Billion for Better School Meals

Move over hamburgers, tater tots and pizza. Healthier school lunches could be just around the corner. While unhealthy foods may be staples in most school cafeterias, new child nutrition legislation recently passed in the Senate could bring major changes to lunch lines across the country. Continue reading

School Lunch Nutrition: What You Need to Know

School Lunch Nutrition | Foodfacts.com

School Lunch Nutrition | Foodfacts.com

For some families, lunchboxes might as well be relics from the past. Why bother with packing the kids’ lunch when they can get a perfectly healthy meal at school? But, you may surprised by what you don’t know about our national school lunch program. Continue reading