School Menu Trends – ‘A’ For Effort?

via Healing Quest

You’ve got to hand it to Barbara Stitt and the administrators of Appleton Central High School – they sure are trying. And while we’ll be the first to admit that the improvements in cafeteria fare are certainly admirable, to stick with the schooling theme, they’re far from earning top grades.

So lets look at the positives: It is good news that some schools are now offering salad bars and that they’re contracting with local farmers to ensure that students have access to fresh, wholesome foods. And it is admirable that students are being taught about the importance of a healthy, balanced diet.

But here’s where we have the problem: Much of the menu profiled in this excerpt is extremely carbohydrate heavy – with the school profiled in this video accepting guidance from a bread company no less! Donuts and toast have to go. But pale looking bagels, a slew of muffins and granola is their answer!

Perhaps the most glaring issue in the video is that they say that the changes implemented by the schools bring them into line with the National School Lunch Act made in 1946. Uhhh…1946? Wasn’t there more recent data available? I mean, even the U.S. Department of Agriculture has updated its food pyramid since 1946 (but please, don’t even get us started on those changes!)

The bottom line here? The changes profiled in the video are certainly an improvement over soda machines and fast foods, but there is just so much more we can and should be doing to set our children on the path to a lifetime of healthy eating.

What do you think of their attempts to make school lunches healthy?

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10 thoughts on “School Menu Trends – ‘A’ For Effort?”

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  1. I think it is truly admirable what they did/are doing! YEt true there are many more ways to improve on their plan. How about adding various types of fresh eggs, cheeses, chemical free yogurts and perhaps nitrate free sausage to breakfast? They can add some berries and fresh fruits too as opposed to so much emphasis on “energy drinks.”
    Lunch–they can add some chunks of natural cheeses, wild tuna, hard cooked eggs and perhaps some grilled chicken as protein offerings on their salad bar! Avocado and extra virgin olive oil would be nice fat options for lunch too.
    I heard from the senior staff that their behaviors are much improved. The students also said their attention span and concentration is better too! I would love to see their sports program/gym gains with these changes and follow it with the changes I am proposing in their diets too!

    And what was the “green” stuff that looked like jello?

  2. It is an improvement and I applaud their efforts. However, I would give them a D for breakfast and only a B for lunch as I agree with the first poster that there is so much more they can do.

    By the way, the Natural Ovens Bakery mentioned in the article has an excellent low-carb bread with 5 net carbs per slice. I used to buy it 12 loaves at a time and have it sent to me by UPS and kept it in the freezer till needed…that is until we decided to go completely wheat-and-gluten-free!

  3. I think, compared to what most parents feed their children, the schools are doing a great job.

    My wife works in a preschool where lunch is packed by parents of her three year olds daily. For the most part they eat far far worse than this. She described three “meals” for kids and the composition was probably 90% sugar and the rest protein/fat in the form of cut up hotdogs. I don’t have kids so maybe I am ignorant of the struggle to get kids to eat healthier but it seems like only a small percentage of parents really care what their child is eating. (And I should note this is at a very expensive preschool, 1000-1500 a month, well I think it’s expensive.)

    Readers of Mark’s Daily Apple probably do not fall into the above category but I think it is more of the parents’ problem. However, I think it’s awesome that school completely took out some of the worst options but I know if I was in school I’d head straight for whatever is 2nd worst for me. I think if parents can instill a healthy attitude in their children then as long as the school gives at least one good option they’ll be fine. But then again, I don’t have children and getting your children to choose healthy over not-healthy is probably a struggle I don’t understand completely.


  4. Our neighborhood school in Texas had a free breakfast and my neighbor didn’t understand why I didn’t take advantage of it. The options were sugary cereals, pastries, cereal bars, yogurt (more sugar than yogurt type), biscuits and gravy, pancakes and syrup, you get the idea. I figured the eggs w/cheese, fresh fruit, and whatever else I was cooking (yes, even the hash browns lol) were better for them than all that sugar and preservatives. Unfortunately I’ve fallen off the wagon during our move overseas and have been buying bad cereal (when I say I fell off the wagon, it’s more like I took a running leap lol). Time to get back on track!

  5. Oh, I forgot to mention that this is also a school district that put limits on the number of parties each class can have involving candy or the time of day you could bring a birthday snack/pizza into class. I guess if they are getting their fill of sugar at breakfast there really is no need to bring in cupcakes or to have more than three candy-fest parties a year. I don’t get how they can try to limit “bad” food by limiting parties but they can freely give away junk food and call it breakfast.

  6. Well, I have to dissent slightly, Mark and Aaron. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. These meals are far and away better than fast food meals. I think this is great.

    Would I like to see eggs or some other non-carby breakfast option? Yes. Do I think fruit juice is junk food in a health food suit? Absolutely. Was I hoping that sour cream they were putting on their tacos was full fat? Of course!

    But I think serving whole foods is remarkable progress. And I think it shows two things – teenagers can appreciate good food if it’s presented to them; and food does influence brains (including both behavior and learning).

    If every school in America did this, our kids would be so much better off than they are now that we might actually be raising a generation of kids who have brains healthy enough to understand the complexities of nutrition. When those kids grew up, we’d have a new generation of parents who wanted to tweak school lunches even further.

  7. We agree, Migraineur. Which is why half the post was dedicated to mentioning that their efforts are admirable and that improvements were certainly made. A little criticism, which I think you have admitted is warranted and agree with, doesn’t mean to say they shouldn’t keep doing what they are doing. We understand baby steps have to be made. But, unless there are critics (however nit picky) offering up suggestions relating to further refinement, where will the baby steps lead us? Thanks for the comment!

  8. I would give them an A for effort. If a child eating a nutritional plan as this school has designed continued the efforts at home, then they will not be headed toward an overweight/obese lifestyle.

    Carbohydrates in moderation do not lead to poor health. It’s a balancing act.

    Now, the results may not be perfect and not all calories are created equal, but for heading in the right direction and considering the balance of foods, the school is doing a great job.

    The real challenge comes in changing parents’ attitudes and understanding of nutrition to better support their lifestyle as well as the children.

  9. I agree about the daycares. My cousin runs one, and she recently got in a fight (not the blows type) with a mother because she kept sending oreos, fruit rollups, and laxitives with her for lunch. Some parents really don’t care and it’s sad to see them suffer. On the other hand, my step daughter was enrolled in an in-house daycare and she didn’t let parents send lunch – but she served mac and cheese, hot dogs, chips, fruit snacks (not snacks of fruit, but the kind shaped like animals) and lots of milk. She was constipated all the time and her mom just sent laxitives with her when it was our day to have her. It was horrible and so sad to watch… The main reason I don’t want to have kids right now is because I’m in the military and I wouldn’t have the option to be a “stay at home” mom, and I hate to subject my children to a crappy diet based on ignorance. *sigh*