Don't Let Congress Take Away Healthy School Meals for Kids
Every day over 30 million children depend on a healthy school lunch
There is tremendous progress underway toward improving schools' foods. Yet, some food companies, school food service organizations, and Members of Congress are trying to roll back these improvements, including those around fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and sodium reduction.
The fact is, the updated standards are working, and as a result, kids are eating healthier. A Harvard study shows kids are now eating 16 percent more vegetables and 23 percent more fruit at lunch. A more recent study from the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity shows kids consuming more of their lunch entrées with more fruit and vegetables, effectively decreasing food waste.
Healthier school meals are becoming the new norm. A recent poll from the Kellogg Foundation shows 9 out of 10 people support the updated standards and 86 percent said the standards should stay the same or be strengthened. A survey by the Kids' Safe and Healthy Foods Project found 70 percent of food service staff and school administrators in elementary and middle schools say kids like the healthier meals. Another study from the University of California, Berkeley's School of Public Health found nearly 90 percent of students like their school meal options. The updated standards also help reduce the disparity in nutrition across schools in lower -- versus higher-income areas, according to a recent study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The updated standards also drive industry innovation to be healthier. For example, nine out of ten kids eat too much salt which is associated with high blood pressure and increased risk of hypertension, stroke, and heart attacks in adulthood. Since school meals must lower the level of salt over ten years to align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, many food service companies are reformulating their products to meet lower levels of salt. Food service staff are also working to prepare delicious meals with less salt.
More and more low-income kids are served more nutritious school meals than ever before. 30 million kids eat school lunch daily.
We cannot afford to roll back school nutrition when one out of three kids is overweight or obese, and many will develop type 2 diabetes.
So why would Congress want to weaken school nutrition when by all accounts the school lunch program is getting an A? Very few Members of Congress are leading the effort to weaken the nutrition standards. They need to hear from you, their constituent, to remind them of the bipartisan support of the school lunch program.