A Sept. 30 article in the Orlando Sentinel headlined “Schools try to keep kids from tossing out fruit, veggies,” says schools in Florida’s Lake County tried out the new school lunch guidelines last year before they became mandatory. During that time, according to the article, the school district estimates kids threw away $75,000 worth of produce.
So, kids are hungry, but they’re also throwing food away?
I wonder how many salad bars that produce would have stocked.
In all the consumer media complaints about the new standards, however, there are some bright spots.
USA Today’s feature on the “We Are Hungry” video quotes Leah Schmidt, president-elect of the National Harbor, Md.-based School Nutrition Association and director of nutrition services for the Hickman Mills School District in Kansas City, Mo., on produce and the problem of hungry kids.
“Really active athletes may need more than the lunch, but that’s not our normal customer in the school lunch line. Not everybody needs all those calories,” she said.
Schmidt said her school district, which has self-serve bars for produce options, doesn’t limit the amount of fruits and vegetables kids can take.
“That’s probably the healthiest way to add more calories if they’re not getting full at lunch,” she said. “(Students and teachers) love the extra fruits and vegetables. We like the freshness factor of those.”
According to Let’s Move, first lady Michelle Obama’s anti-childhood obesity effort, nearly one in three kids in the U.S. are overweight or obese, with higher percentages in some communities or ethnic backgrounds.
Not all school kids struggle with weight issues or healthy eating, of course.
Nor are all students active in sports or workers on family farms.
There has to be a happy medium somewhere, and if the average kid needs a daily diet of 2,000 calories, an 850-calorie school lunch would be nearly half of that.
Change of any kind can bring stress and frustration, and it takes work to correct poor eating habits and learn to like new or different foods.
As the school year progresses and schools get into the swing of the new standards, let’s hope nutrition workers like Schmidt persevere and help students learn to appreciate fruits and vegetables rather than scraping them off their plates into the trash.
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