Sunday, May 5, 2013

School Lunches: Are they Healthier?

Look at this Elementary School Breakfast and Lunch Menu:

Compare it to the High School lunch menu:


These are the lunch menus for the school district that I live in. They are available online.

What I am here to write about today is the difference between the meals the schools have served in the past and the meals they serve now. Before I get into the differences between the past and the present, I would like to point out that the high school menu has more variety than the elementary school menu. I personally don't know why this is the case but here are a few points that you should consider when thinking why the menus are different between elementary school and high school:

  • First and foremost, teenagers and children develop differently. 
  • Teenagers and children have more nutritional needs. Technically speaking, teenagers need to consume more calories for their rate of activity and growth. 
  • Variety is good.  
Image from
As you know, Michelle Obama promotes the fight against obesity. She created the Let's Move campaign. She wants children to get moving but she also wants school's to provide nutritious food to children as they are in school. And, it seems that her campaign is working. 

What I notice from the lunches from when I was in Elementary school to current lunches, the changes are there, being made in the process. 
  • There are now salad options in the Elementary menu.
  • They have switched to using whole grain breads. 
  • They are now using brown rice in place of white rice. 
  • The meals are more balanced.
  • There's a switch from full fat milk to 1% to nonfat milk. 
  • There are now fresh fruit options instead of canned fruits.
  • It caters to vegetarians now.
  • There are now two choices for lunches instead of one. 
Yes, I know that they are still using frozen foods. We don't know what "whole grain" really means unless we see what type of breads they actually purchase. However, it is a step in the right direction. 

Now, let's compare the high school menu from when I was in high school to now (only a one year difference).

  • There is now an outdoor grill instead of heating up frozen patties in the oven. 
  • They cut the portion of the spicy chicken wrap in half. 
  • A couple years ago, there used to be a buttermilk bar , which was all covered in sugar frosting. Now, they took that off. 
  • Lower fat milks are now offered. 
  • The lunch cost has increased. 
  • There is now the use of brown rice instead of white rice. 
  • There is now a REAL fresh salad bar. 
Other than that, the high schools are pretty much serving the same food I've eaten since I was in high school. However, once again, it's the step in the right direction. 

Really, I advocate for schools to serve nutritious meals to its students. It's good for the mind and the body. Nutrition is important because children are growing and developing. They also need the energy to get through school and learn what they need to learn. 

Schools now how have to meed new federal guidelines for school meals, which can be found on the USDA website. 

Schools are doing a good job on implementing these guidelines. Hopefully, we will see more healthy options at schools. 

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