I said I wasn’t going to post on TLT while at Expo West, where I’ll be speaking later today, but this school food news is too important not to share.
STUDY: Kids Eating More Fruit at School, Wasting Less Food
First, the good news. A new study from the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity has just been released, and the study title says it all: “New School Meal Regulations Increase Fruit Consumption and Do Not Increase Total Plate Waste.”
After looking at school meal consumption both before and after the new healthier standards were put into place, the researchers summarized their findings this way:
Students responded positively to the new lunches. They consumed more fruit, threw away less of the entrees and vegetables, and consumed the same amount of milk. Overall, the revised meal standards and policies appear to have significantly lowered plate waste in school cafeterias.
The Rudd study, when paired with similar findings from a previous Harvard School of Public Health study, make a very strong case that we must stay the course on the new healthier school meal standards.
The SNA Shows its Hand: “Flexibility is Free”
And now the bad news.
Last week I asked a question in this blog post: Is the School Nutrition Association’s Request for More School Funding a Priority — or a Ploy? In other words, while I’m pleased that the SNA has finally decided to ask Congress for more money for school food, I’ve been worried that, in reality, the organization will instead devote all of its lobbying efforts to no-cost rollbacks of school nutrition standards. And if a Congressional representative is presented with the choice of coming up with more funding versus a free “solution,” which is he or she likely to support?
Well, it looks like my concerns were fully justified. In a piece on Politico Pro (subscription only) earlier this week, food policy reporter Helena Bottemiller Evich asked SNA President Julia Bauscher about the SNA’s funding request and was told:
she is not optimistic about such a funding increase.
Rather, Bauscher is more confident in achieving success on two of SNA’s asks, on [rolling back standards for] whole grains and sodium . . . .
“We all know what the federal government’s budget’s like — we’re not going to get any more money,” said Bauscher, adding: “We at least need to make the point that we need more money…and flexibility is free.”
Yes, it’s true that “flexibility” – the SNA’s cynical euphemism for ignoring science-based child nutrition standards – is free. But here’s what isn’t “free:” the future healthcare costs for a generation of children which has been nutritionally shortchanged, if the SNA has its way.
Once again, if you are a current or former SNA member who disagrees with your organization’s current legislative agenda, please show your support for healthier school meals by signing and sharing this open letter. Thank you.
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