Thursday, February 2, 2012

Great Changes in Store for School Lunches

Childhood obesity is an epidemic and the bottom line is too many American children are overweight!  The problem not only stems from unhealthy meal choices at home but in their daily school lunches. Parents struggle with the choice to have their child eat the unhealthy and possibly free lunch at school or pack a lunch in the morning. Packing a lunch in the morning requires more time, more rush and more groceries. If only there was an easier way!

From the desk of Kim Gubbins
PHA Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Thankfully, some changes are underway for the school lunch menus in grades kindergarten through twelfth. A well-balanced, healthy school lunch will soon be possible! Over the next three years a new menu will be mandated that will impact 32 million children. Changes will include only skim and low-fat milk options, more whole grains, healthy portion sizes, more fruits and veggies and healthier vending machine options. Children will now be able to get whole-wheat cheese pizza, baked sweet potato fries, low fat dressing options, and many choices for raw fruits and cooked veggies. Hot dogs, mystery breaded patties, sugary canned fruit, whole milk and ranch dressing will no longer be an option.

Click on link below to be directed to before and after school lunch menu:
http://www.usda.gov/documents/cnr_chart.pdf

This healthy school lunch movement will not come cheap. It will cost the government $3.2 billion dollars and may take years to completely regulate/mandate the changes. Regardless of the challenges ahead, it is a very exciting first step for our children.

PHA encourages parents to look ahead at the school lunch menu (usually posted online or available in the office) or find out what your child is ordering daily (in some schools parents can view what their child ordered daily)! Work with your child on the choices they make at lunchtime and discuss healthier options.

Ideas include:

  • Eliminating mayo
  • Eliminating the top half of the bun or sub roll and eating sandwiches open faced
  • Drinking water
  • Choosing an unhealthy option (pizza, hot dog, etc) only one day per week
  • Bring a lunch from home (maybe set a goal or 3-4 days per week?)
  • Choosing fruit and veggies options
For more nutrition guidance, please schedule a nutrition consult with the nurse practitioner team at PHA. We will review a 2 week diet log (that needs to be kept before coming to the appointment), discuss changes, healthy options and set goals. This is a great way to make healthy changes and get the ball rolling! We are more than happy to help!

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