The concept of a “healthy mind in a healthy body” is nothing new. It originated with the Roman poet, Juvenal, who lived from 55-127 AD.
Roll ahead the calendar just a bit –say, about 2,000 years – and you can see the most recent manifestation of this idea in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which will bring some major changes to school lunches this fall.
For starters, the new national standards require that school lunches contain fruits and vegetables every school day, fat-free and low-fat milk options only, and more whole grains. And most schools will need to double the amount of fruits and veggies they serve; the new law requires schools to serve legumes, dark green vegetables and red/orange vegetables at least once a weekand limit the quantity of processed starchy vegetables they serve. These steps are intended to help improve the health and well being of the nearly 32 million students who eat school lunches each day.
Are you a calorie counter? Now schools are too.
One of the biggest changes taking place is the introduction of meal calorie limits. School lunches must not exceed 650 calories for grades K-5, 700 calories for grades 6-8 and 850 calories for grades 9-12.
While schools make their own healthy changes, there are important steps parents can take to help their children make healthy choices too. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that parents fill half of their child’s plate with vegetables and fruits, and make at least half the grains they serve whole grains (think oatmeal and brown rice). Read more at choosemyplate.gov or letsmove.gov/eat-healthy.
Anecdotally, we’re hearing that the new calorically-limited lunches are leaving some kids wanting more. Complaints that the amount of food is not enough fuel for student athletes explains why in some districts kids are now buying two lunches. In other districts we’ve heard that, “the food looks amazing, and it’s hard to kind kids with anything bad to say about the new system.”
If you have school-aged children, have they had anything to say about changes to the school lunch offerings at thier school? What do you think about the new requirements?