From Policy to Plate: Healthy School Meals Start With Us

From Policy to Plate: Healthy School Meals Start With Us

Most parents and educators want school cafeterias to serve food that is fresh, local, organic, and nutritious. But the truth is that many school nutrition programs operate on a freezer-to-oven basis. Meals arrive highly processed and ready to pop into the oven.

That’s what Sheila Mulrooney Eldred found nearly a decade ago when she first visited public elementary schools in Minneapolis trying to select one for her children. “I was appalled by the cafeteria choices: sugar-saturated cereals for breakfast, pre-packaged French Toast ‘stix’ with syrup for lunch, and chocolate- or strawberry-flavored milk,” the health and fitness journalist wrote in 2016 for Minnesota Monthly.

Changes in nutritional requirements under the Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, however, have required more fruits, vegetable, and whole grains, and cutbacks on calories and sodium. Now that the measure is law, students eat 16 percent more vegetables and 23 percent more fruit at lunch, according to a 2014 Harvard study.

The changes are also visible throughout Minneapolis Public Schools, where, since 2011, more than 30,000 students have received locally sourced foods—things like fresh produce, meats, and baked goods. Minneapolis isn’t the only city that’s changing its menu…

Read the full article here: