School lunches and childhood obesity are hot topics this year and as they should be. The current stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one in every five children are obese. That’s a clear picture that our kids need more help. The lunch standards are being changed and now the standards for food outside the cafeteria are being challenged.
It’s estimated that $2.3 billion in snack foods and drinks are sold each year in our schools. The Obama administration is set to propose a change in what is sold in vending machines and school snack stores. The new standards are expected in a few weeks. Experts assume that the new guidelines will mirror those of the school lunch standards: reduction of sugar, salt, and fat amounts.
There are many impacted by these changes. Schools may face restrictions on school fundraisers, as many sell candy and sweets to raise money for sports, music, and art programs. Food and beverage companies fear that the guidelines will be too strict and they will lose revenue if they can’t sell in the schools. Many companies feel they’ve made changes to their inventory to reflect the need for healthier foods.
Many advocates fighting to end childhood obesity are also fighting to get vending machines out of our kids’ schools. The machines are filled with unhealthy, low-nutrient foods and soda. Many people want to see them kicked out of the schools for good. However, Utah schools may have the one vending machine advocates may start fighting to get in their own schools.
Rose Park Elementary School in Salt Lake City, Utah has welcomed a new addition to its halls. Thanks to the LiVe public service program, Intermountain Healthcare has installed a fake, talking vending machine. The vending machine looks like any other, full of sweet and salty treats. The difference is that the snacks are fake and the machine doesn’t take money. When the children select an item the machine dispenses a morsel of healthy information.
“I’m a vending machine and can’t move without someone’s help,” a cartoon-like voice says when a student chooses a Lava Cake. “Keep buying food like this and we’ll have that in common.”
The young elementary students are having fun with the machine, even if they are fooled at first. Some of the children have tried to dislodged the faux treats before they realize the game. Older students have taken younger children to the machine to show them how it works and to hear what it might say.
When I helped the first graders at my son’s school with their food group assignment recently, I was amazed at how many were confused about where to place types of food. So many didn’t know what a green bean was, or what strawberries were. Most were completely unaware that fish was a “meat.” It was disheartening and a good glimpse at the nutrition blunders our kids deal with. After hearing this morning’s news, things are going to get much more difficult. According to Congress, pizza will now be placed in the vegetable category.
Surely, I’m not alone in the jaw-drop response to this news. I re-read it just to make sure I was getting this right. But in clear print, the fact that school lunch pizzas contain tomato paste allows Congress to mark it as a vegetable, therefore keeping it on the menu multiple times a month in schools all over the country.
A congressional committee is responsible for this and other ridiculous staples being allowed to stay on our kids’ menus. As a fightback against the Obama administration’s proposal to make school lunches better and healthier for our kids, a bill was released late Monday entailing all the guidelines. (more…)
Brought to you by MAT@USC Masters in Teaching.
The week of October 10 is National School Lunch Week, an effort to examine and raise awareness around a particular angle of school nutrition. For 2011, the theme is “School Lunch – Let’s Grow Healthy.” According to the NSLW, this “provides the opportunity to try something new and promote locally sourced foods.
Many school are growing their own gardens, sourcing ingredients for cafeteria meals from local farmers, and some are expanding the knowledge students have of the food industry by inviting farmers to the school or taking field trips to local farms. (more…)
October is National Farm to School Month, which was enacted by Congress last year. The concept centers around creating and promoting strong relationships between local farms and schools.
A national grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is meant to provide support for not just schools, but businesses and other institutions in promoting the use of locally-grown produce in their cafeterias. The latest school to take advantage of this healthy initiative is the University of Missouri. The state of Missouri has 78 school districts that use locally grown produce. (more…)
After a busy day of learning and recess, children often come home hungry from school and ready for a snack.
Snacks are a great opportunity to provide your child with healthy options that can replenish their energy and hold them over until dinner. Of course, having a wide variety of nutritious snacks to choose from can seem like quite the endeavor to undertake; especially after a long day of work or running errands. Luckily, with a little forethought, having a wide array of healthy foods ready to go after school is quite easy to accomplish.
One of the simplest ways to go about this is by creating your own after school snack station. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just filled with some of your family’s favorite healthy snack choices. As the reserves run low, simply restock as needed.
My son has a severe, life threatening allergy to peanuts and tree nuts. We discovered this food allergy when he was two years old and we just could not figure out why he had severe asthma, requiring multiple emergency room visits, steroids and the like. He also randomly developed enormous hives all over his body and had difficulty breathing when the hives occurred. We took him to an allergist who tested him with both a skin test and a blood test, and we learned of the severity and breadth of the allergies.
Food allergies are different from food intolerances. A food intolerance can cause stomach upset, gastric distress, and possibly digestive issues in the form of diarrhea and constipation. Many people claim that they have a food allergy when a food does not agree with them, and this diminishes the severity for those with a true, life threatening allergy. A food allergy is defined as an abnormal response to a food triggered by your body’s immune system, and is most often triggered by the so called “Big 8”. These eight foods account for 90% of all food reactions and are milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, shellfish, sesame, wheat and soy.
You may hear of a person outgrowing their food allergies, but peanut and shellfish most often remain as lifelong allergies. A food allergy affects the breathing and heart and can, if not stopped in time, lead to death. People who have been diagnosed with a food allergy are often prescribed an epi-pen, an auto-injector of epinephrine that must be injected into the upper thigh to stop the reaction.
A new study is suggesting recent state policies that eliminate junk food from school concessions has been successful, but more so with black students.
Daily soda consumption has dropped twice as much with black students. Overall consumption of soda in the states with junk food bans has dropped by an average of .09 servings of soda each day. However, among black students is dropped .19 servings per day.
“Soda is widely considered to be a contributor to the increase in obesity because it has been associated with excess energy intake and weight gain” wrote the study’s authors. “It became a larger source of energy intake among adolescents during the same period that obesity prevalence increased.” (more…)
The last episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution ended with a teaser about the appointment of a new superintendent for the LAUSD. This final episode of the season began with Jamie meeting with Mike of MLS at Patra’s restaurant.
Deno, Patra’s owner, reported that business had continued to be good with his new healthier menu. Mike informed Jamie (and us) that the new LAUSD school superintendent was willing to grant autonomy to schools that can show results. I also learned that schools are not eligible for reimbursement for the free lunch program if they do not serve flavored milk. Later, when we get to meet the new superintendent, he says that he wants to get rid of flavored milk in LAUSD schools, which we now know that he has accomplished. Jamie predicted that with Los Angeles taking such a proactive move, that soon we may see flavored milk eliminated from schools around the country.
With the new superintendent, Jamie was allowed to go back into West Adams High, even into the school kitchen, where he and his culinary arts students got to try out the new healthier school menu items.
My favorite part of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution this Father’s Day week was Jamie’s visit back to the Barrett family to see if they have stayed away from fast food since his last visit. As Jamie strode up the sidewalk, he noticed that they were growing herbs and vegetables. The father and the teenage son answered the door in aprons, in the midst of preparing dinner for themselves and Jamie. They had even filled the living room with all kinds of produce in jest of Jamie filling their home with fast food on his last visit. The father stated that he had lost 16 pounds already and, most importantly, feels good about himself as a father now that he cooks and has dinner at the family table with his sons.
The episode started with Jamie visiting a convention for school lunch cooks. He let us know that it is not just the LAUSD, but he has also been denied access to 75 other school districts. The comments by the cooks and administrators made it clear that people are afraid of bad press.
I find it sad when we try to pretend that we are perfect and/or do not open ourselves up to improvement through real awareness. I work with people frequently who confess less than functional habits. Just because Jillian Michaels already works out daily, does not mean she is better than the person asking for help to start exercising more often. In fact, I often find that the person trying to make a change has more courage and is working harder than the person who has already developed a healthier habit. My favorite part of the school lunch cook convention was Jamie commenting on the fact that during airing of the Food Revolution, commercials for fast food or convenience food are also being aired.