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Eating well to learn

2012-08-24T00:26:00Z Eating well to learnHenry Imhoff Helena Helena Independent Record
August 24, 2012 12:26 am  • 

With the new school year just around the corner, parents’ attention is turning to school clothes, supplies, and lunches. Yes, school lunches.

Traditionally, USDA had used the National School Lunch Program as a dumping ground for surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, its own surveys indicate that children consume excessive amounts of animal fat and sugary drinks, to the point where one-third have become overweight or obese. Their early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Gradually, the tide is turning. The new USDA school lunch guidelines, mandated by President Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, require doubling the servings of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less sodium and fat and no meat for breakfast. Still, food lobbyists have prevailed on Congress to count pizza and French fries as vegetables and fatty mystery meats and sugary dairy drinks abound.

Parents and students should consider healthy school lunch as a work in progress and insist on healthful plant-based school meals, snacks and vending machine items.

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(2) Comments

  1. steeline
    Report Abuse
    steeline - August 25, 2012 4:14 pm
    Better and healthier foods served at school is a very good thing. What would be even better is if the "food stamp" program would adopt the same standards. There should be limits on use of food stamps. Only healthy foods should be purchased with them. Another thought. If the kids are going to school hungry why. Don't the food stamp program, Food Shares provide food for low income people. Why then if some people get free food they don't prepare a breakfast and or a lunch for their kids. Sending kids to school hungry is child abuse, what about that? The entire food give away program is in need of an overhall for the good of all. If the food stamp program allows for the purchase of unhealthy food how are we, as a nation going to get our "poor" people healthy and lower the health care costs? Just a thought. We have to restore America.
  2. econ_geo
    Report Abuse
    econ_geo - August 25, 2012 1:15 pm
    Plant based? Give me a break. Tofu and rice and beans will just be thrown out by most of the kids. The idea of trying to "vegetarianize" our children is ridiculious. The key is balance. Meat still offers the best bioavailable source of protein and amino acids that growing children need. Lasagnia every two weeks and pizza every two weeks will not hurt anything or teach poor eating habits (isn't that the PARENT's job anyway?). More fruits and vegetables are great, but turkey sandwitches, roasted chicken, porkchops, fish, and hamburgers should all be part of the meals. A huge start would be using more frozen fruit and vegetables in stead of canned ones, to introduce kids to lower salt early on. Fewer sugary drinks? Absoulutely. Fewer meat-based main courses for lunch? Nope.

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