If you haven't already heard the news, today marks a landmark for our country's school lunch programs, and more importantly, school kids (32 million, in fact). Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with food personality Rachael Ray, announced that school lunches are going to be more about fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and less about greasy French fries and pizza.
Those current lunch tray staples will still be in regular rotation (though Vilsack claims French fries will be baked or roasted and pizza will have whole-grain dough), but they will now have to share space with a recommended amount of leafy greens and orange and red fruits and vegetables. High schoolers, for example, will get 6 1/2 cups more produce than they currently do.Other changes that will go into effect during the next school year are lower allowances of sugars, fat, and calories in foods and making portion sizes more modest. These changes mark the first time in the past 30 years that Congress is stepping in to ramp up school kids' nutrition; it will contribute an additional six cents to every meal. (Isn't it amazing how a small handful of pennies can make such an impact?)
Beyond requiring skim over whole milk and whole grains over white starches, these new guidelines most importantly foster a better nourished nation. Children and teens will be supercharging their bodies and minds with healthier foods to make them smarter, stronger individuals.
As we all know, the foods we eat have an enormous impact on the our well-being: they can pick you up or bring you down, heal your body or trigger disease. Choosing which foods we take into our bodies is one of the most important, and frequent, decisions we make---and supplying schools with the right resources is a great start for a healthier country.
What do you think about the new school lunch guidelines?