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Back to Healthy School Meals: USDA Congratulates Six States for Nearly 100% of Schools Meeting New Meal Standards

School cafeterias across the country are at the heart of offering great nutrition for our kids.

School cafeterias across the country are at the heart of offering great nutrition for our kids.

As we continue to combat childhood obesity in America, I am proud to say that this Back to School season our school cafeterias are at the heart of offering great nutrition for our kids. Students and schools are embracing the healthier lunches offered through the National School Lunch Program that, together with the healthier breakfasts offered through the School Breakfast Program beginning this school year and the recently announced “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards that kick in next year, continue our children on the path towards future health and happiness.

So how are school cafeterias faring with all the meal updates across the nation? Like I said, they are putting their hearts into it.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Florida, Montana, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina and Colorado, where all or nearly all school cafeterias are now serving meals that meet the new standards. Kudos to them!

In fact, at the end of this past school year, 79 percent of all participating school districts across the country had notified their states that they were meeting the new standards! This represents a significant achievement for the first year of implementation. We are confident that the remaining schools will make the changes needed to qualify for the performance based reimbursement in the coming year.

In Colorado, for example, Jane Brand, Director of the Office of Nutrition at the Colorado Department of Education, tried several innovative approaches to become the first state to complete certification and validation of all schools. Initially, the Colorado staff mailed jump drives with all the paperwork and instructions to each school district. Some schools were better than others at mastering the system and utilized the jump drives. For the rest, Brand and her staff hit the road and met face to face with dozens of districts small and large across Colorado. The hands-on approach worked to relieve the stress many districts felt in getting through the process. Brand also cross-trained her staff and encouraged school districts to share ideas and information on how to master the process.

The best news is that changes in schools are expected to have a positive impact. Research shows that school-based programs that encourage healthy eating, physical activity and positive body image attitudes are among a range of actions that can help reduce levels of childhood obesity. We are already seeing a promising reversal in childhood obesity rates, and this fall, with a return to healthy eating in schools, I expect nothing less than more progress.

8 Responses to “Back to Healthy School Meals: USDA Congratulates Six States for Nearly 100% of Schools Meeting New Meal Standards”

  1. Lisa says:

    My daughter has allergies to eggs (which are in the salads), whole wheat (which is the pastas, breads and chicken breading). The food comes to our school already made so they can’t even make something without these things. What are you doing for the kids with allergies like that. What are they supposed to eat in school???

  2. Terry says:

    You all just do not understand, children are not getting fat off of what they are receiving in school, it’s what they eat after they leave school because the lunches are so bad they are eating a lot more junk when they get home now. MRS> OBAMA needs to rethink her diet plan, everybody can’t be a size 2. Genes play a large role in kids weight, children who play sports in the afternoons need food, most kids don’t eat breakfast, they need a decent lunch with something besides watered down milk, what about kids who can’t tolerate milk, or the ones that need a gluten free diet. WHY do some counties have good meals and a salad bar, the next county over it’s all out of the microwave and cold , mushy and they think pizza is healthy twice a week.

  3. Samantha Howes says:

    Please consider a whole food diet for children. Organic foods that are not processed and are free of Genetically Modified Organisims (GMOs) provide the highest quality nutrition. Our county’s food supply is is being run by agribusiness who thrive on the mighty dollar with NO concern for the health of our children and citizens. You can start with school lunches but the real problem is the junk on grocery shelves.

  4. Andrea says:

    Samantha Howes said it perfectly.

  5. Linda says:

    There will always be somebody complaining about something! I, for one, am proud of this achievement in nutrition for our nation’s children. A nutritious meal should provide everything your kids need to participate in after school sports, etc. If you disagree, send them with a late-afternoon snack, for crying out loud!

  6. Kirstin says:

    I got an idea….if you are so concerned about what your kid is eating in school, you can make their lunch for them. People rely too much on the government to fix their problems; if you want a change, be part of the solution.

    I am happy for the changes made to the school lunches, it is a giant step in the right direction. I just hope that the communities can step up and support their schools in this effort.

  7. Sherron says:

    It’s great that the food is healthy but have you tasted it? It tastes awful! Most of the kids at my daughter’s school take their lunches because the school lunches have zero flavor. I have eaten there several times and tried a variety of the food. It was all a waste of my money. Can’t they provide healthy food that tastes good? I know I cook healthy at home and my food is way better than the crap they are serving our children.

  8. Sara Hardy says:

    I think the school lunches have come a long way than when I was in school, but then I wasn’t raised on sugar-laden high carbohydrate meals either. You can send your children to school with a home lunch if you do not like the school’s. Does anybody know how much it costs to eat healthy? It’s hard to do at home on a budget, try feeding the masses of children on this same budget and address all the the food allergies and intolerances. It’s also the parents responsibility to feed their children healthy meals. Better yet,go to your child’s school at lunch and watch the children throw away perfectly good fruit and milk.

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