Think back to grade school…before cliques and trends, when boys and girls still had cooties, and recess was an important part of the day. Remember sitting in the school cafeteria, swapping chips for cookies, and fruit snacks for candy? Those lucky few who had treats packed into their bags were kings and queens of the lunch table. Fast forward to 2012. Schools are filled with vending machines loaded with soda, candy, chips, and whatever else every kid’s mom doesn’t want them munching down on all day, all ready and waiting for the price of a few quarters. Not to mention the burgers, fries, and pizza that proliferate school lunch menus nationwide. For the first time in years, the USDA is doing something about all of those terribly processed foods kids today are being exposed to. New standards issued today by the Department of Agriculture are placing tougher sanctions on school lunches and the types of food children can get at school.
As part of these new standards, school lunches will now be required to include more whole grains, fruits and veggies, reduce the amount of fat and sodium in food items, as well as offer more low fat milk options. For those moms hoping for little cartons of almond milk and organic vegetarian pizza at school, I’m right there with you, but we’re not quite there yet. Still, these measures are a milestone in terms of getting our youth back on track to eating better. Every little step we take towards healthier options in schools is a step in the right direction. Considering the progress (or lack thereof) made in school lunches over the past few decades, this is a leap and a bound.
Rising awareness of childhood obesity, which affects an average of 1 in 6 children in the US, has spurred the push for healthier options to be made available. Programs such as the Chefs Move to Schools Program, which involves culinary professionals working to make healthy food options for schools better tasting, and the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act the First Lady endorsed, which gives the federal government more control over vending machine options, are now coming out of the woodwork.
However, simply putting these programs into affect is not enough. Many school districts, especially in more populated areas, are worried about the potential costs of healthier lunches that their students may or may not eat. It will be up to the parents, grandparents, guardians, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and older generations to ultimately set the example and instill the healthy eating habits within our youth. And why wouldn’t we? Healthier choices lead to longer, healthier lives, increased energy, and better physical and mental development. In short, eat your fruits and veggies and keep playing hard, it’s all downhill from there. Don’t forget to check out all of our kids fleece jackets that will keep the kids warm and happy during all that hard playing.