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Opinion: Schools Want Less Healthy Lunches

Opinion: Schools Want Less Healthy Lunches

Throughout the last few years, there have been a number of initiatives to provide students with the healthiest lunches out there. Some schools, however, actually want their lunches less healthy than most.

So says Claire McCarthy, writer for health and parenting for

"Since 2012, public schools have been using updated nutrition standards," McCarthy said. "The changes, which came from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 [HHFKA], are simple and sensible: more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, less trans fats and sodium, healthy calorie guidelines. And as an incentive, HHFKA gave the schools more money."

Just two years later, she said, "many schools want out."

"Some school officials, food-industry advocates, and the School Nutrition Association have raised concerns--so much so that the House of Representatives included a way for schools to get a waiver and opt out in the 2015 Agriculture Appropriations Bill," McCarthy said. "Why would any school want to go back to unhealthy school lunches? The answer is what it almost always is in these kind of situations: Money."

The problem, McCarthy said, is that "fewer kids are buying the lunches since the changes. Now, it's not clear that this is all because of the changes--while it's true that fewer kids are buying school lunches [even though more qualify for free school meals], this started before 2012. Prices have gone up, and, well, school lunches hardly have a great reputation, if you know what I mean."

"But it is true that the healthy lunches don't go over big with all children. Hey, we see this at our own dinner tables. While there are certainly children out there who love broccoli, many more of them love french fries. However, at our own dinner table, we don't say: Oh, no problem, you don't have to eat your broccoli. Or any vegetables or fruits, today or ever. Just eat french fries. Because we know that this would be bad for our children, and we want them to be healthy. Shouldn't schools want the same thing?"

"Let's get the word out, and stop Congress and others from turning back the clock when it comes to the food our children eat," she said. "The point shouldn't be to get kids to buy and eat more food--that's the thinking that got us the obesity epidemic in the first place. The point should be to give kids healthy foods, teach them healthy habits--and help them have a healthy future."

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor 

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