CDC: School Meals Are Much Healthier
A just-released report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that since the implementation of the science-based nutrition standards of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), school meals are indeed signficantly healthier.
From the New York Times‘ recap of the study:
. . . the nutritional profile of school meals in the United States had improved substantially since higher government standards went into effect in 2012.
Nearly 80 percent of schools offered two or more vegetables per meal in 2014, the data showed, up from 62 percent in 2000. Two or more fruits were offered in about 78 percent of schools, up from 68 percent in 2000. About a third of schools now have salad bars.
This is great news – and also very important data to have on hand as we head into the Child Nutrition Reauthorization this fall, when federal lawmakers will debate whether to roll back some of these same healthier school meal standards.
You can read the full CDC report here.
But Are Kids Actually Eating the Healthier Food?
Those seeking to weaken some HHFKA standards will likely seize upon another new study, also released this week, finding that students’ fruit and vegetable consumption is down and waste is up since the HHFKA’s implementation.
That’s troubling news, but it’s hardly conclusive: an earlier Harvard School of Public Health study found the opposite, concluding that fruit consumption remained the same and vegetable consumption went up due to the law. It’s also important to note that in both studies researchers gathered their data in the first year of the HHFKA’s implementation, before students were used to seeing fruits and vegetables on their tray on a daily basis.
Confused About the CNR?
If so, you’re not alone. But help is on the way! Next week I’ll have a piece on Civil Eats, “Five Things You Need to Know About the CNR,” which I hope will help readers understand what’s ahead with respect to the Child Nutrition Reauthorization and school food. I’ll share the link here when it’s up.
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