A new survey of more than 800 voters in Ohio reveals overwhelming support for fruit and vegetables in school meals.
 
The statewide study, conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, found that 94% of parents polled support the requirement that schools include a serving of fruits or vegetables with every meal.
 
Also, 96% said they believe that serving nutritious foods in schools is important “to ensure that children are prepared to learn and do their best,” according to a news release.
 
The survey also found that 95% of Ohio voters believe it is important to allow kids adequate time to eat, with more than 6 in 10 calling it “very important.” About one-third of those polled said students don’t have enough time to eat their school lunches.
 
Giving more time for school meals could improve nutrition, according to the release. A study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that kids with less than 20 minutes to eat consumed 13% less of their entrees, 12% less of their vegetables, and 10% less of their milk compared with peers who had at least 25 minutes, according to the release.
 
“Giving kids enough time to eat can help ensure they get the nutrients and energy offered in today’s school meals,” Jessica Donze Black said in the release. Black is director of the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts.
 
“Schools are serving more fruits and vegetables under current nutrition standards, and research demonstrates that kids are taking and eating more of these healthy foods,” Black said in the release.
 
The poll also revealed: 
  • 93% of those polled believe nutrition education at school is “important” or “very important”;
  • 77% of parents back current nutritional standards for school meals; and
  • 70% of parents want snacks sold in school stores/vending machines and as side items in the cafeteria.