The new Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act
With all the changes in the meal patterns for schools who participate in the federal school lunch program there is a lot of misinformation floating around. This newsletter will help calrify the differences.
Full comparison of the old and new nutritional standards.
I live in a strong agricultural state. We believe in our products and want to see them utilized in our school food programs. We have kids that are active and some that are not. We still have physical education in our state, but we also have high academic expectations that if we aren't careful could minimize the amount of activity our kids get throughout the day. The new standards place limits on calories and proteins, dictate how much of the breads can be non- whole grain and require students to take a specific amount of fruits and veggies. It sounds ok from the outside to many, but there are some HUGE challenges with the new plan. The biggest of MY concerns is that many kids are hungry shortly after finishing lunch. The calorie limits are ok for a few, but not enough to sustain most throughout the remainder of the day. If students are active and involved in before or afterschool extra- curricular activities they need more than what is currently being provided. Students may not get an opportunity to eat until after 6pm and then gorge themselves or come home from school and grab whatever they can. When possible students are also leaving school at lunch and heading to the local stores to purchase foods to fill themselves up. Almost all of it being junkfood!
I will be the first to say that I think schools have had to pick up a large portion of things that used to be done at home and that the school really is not to blame for these new stadards. They are working the best they can to make the most of the guidelines in quantity and quality. To some extent their hands are tied, but their voices do not have to be muffled. I will also say that a nutrition program will NEVER meet the needs of all our kids, but it has to be better than what it has been turned into. For some of the students in our schools, lunch (and sometimes breakfast) is the only "meal" they receive. I will also share that I HATE the limits on calories and protein. I LOVE the increase in fruits and veggie option (whole grain as well), but hate that they have to take a specified amount and that a large amount is being thrown away.
Interestingly enough, many kids didn't eat healthy under the old plan and still aren't with the new. Kids used to be able to get by with milk, croutons, and shredded cheese. Now they can pass with milk, a serving of veggie or fruit (which can be thrown away), whole-grain croutons, and shredded cheese. The only difference is their lack of ability to go back for seconds of cheese and croutons in this situation, or milk, breads and proteins in the general sense. We just have more being thrown away and kids that are still not eating balanced meals and/ or leaving with full bellies and are not able to perform to the best of their ability.
Here is a parady video that helps exemplify some of the results of the new meal plan implementation.
"We Are Hungry" Youtube video created by a school or group in Kansas to express the need to amend the new standards and share some of the impact of the ones recently inacted.
I have been fortunate enough to spend time in several different capacities in numerous schools partaking in school lunch on a regular basis, as well as be a "hot lunch kid" growning up. I didn't have the option to pack a lunch when I was in school and as an adult in the schools and as mom, I love the convienence of school lunch.
Sensible School Lunches on Facebook is a resource with lunch ideas, up to date information and dialogue. It is worth checking out and "liking"! It helps me keep up to speed with ideas for snack, packing lunches when needed and what is happening with the new nutrition standards that are part of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act.
A lot of the hussle and bussle regarding this Act comes from kids, parents and those working in the schools. But even state leaders in agriculture care about good nutrition and a student's ability to perform in school. They know that kids need certain nutritional components and quantities that are different than what is allowable currently. Ag Commissioner, Doug Goehring, urged leaders from all 50 states to oppose the guidelines. Click here to read the press release regarding this action.
Change is never easy and I work to not jump on a bandwagon for or against anything, but when I am not happy after waiting for a while I look for a way to make things better. Below is a link to Wag'n Tales where one mom ran out of answers about the change in the lunch program for her son so they asked someone who should know, the US Secretary of Agriculture.
A 10-year old's letter to Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, about school lunch.
If you want to share your insight, questions, comments and concerns regarding the new meal patterns please do so. No voice is too big or too small to make a difference!
To make your voice heard contact:
Undersecretary of Food & Nutrition Services
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, D.C. 20250
Secretary of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, D.C. 20250
Here are a few pictures of notes and drawings students have done to share their thoughts about the new meal patterns for school lunch.
"I do not believe the school lunch program is a good thing. Students with their own money can walk up town and get their own meal. The school's lunch doesn't taste very good, and there isn't very large amounts. For people with a larger appetite such as myself, I believe people who need to eat more, deserve more to eat. Some people go through the day hungry because of the small portions of food. And why limit what we can eat, when there are large amounts of leftovers being thrown into the trash and going to waste, If I didn't live the distance from school as I do now, I would go home and eat so I could feel full and not hungry and miserable. There is no point in limiting our hot lunch when after school we can stuff our faces at home. The program should be tossed out and the school board should listen to what the students want and what will fill them up and not be hungry."
We all have an opinion and want what is best. Share your thoughts and let others know that hungry kids are not happy kids. Therefore their parents, siblings,teachers and all others are not either! We want kids to know and practice good eating and exercise habits for lifelong well-being! Please let those who can make a difference know that you care! THANKS!