New School Lunch Rules: It’s a Win-Win Not a War

February 2, 2012

English: USDA MyPlate nutritional guide icon

I’ll be the first to admit that Healthy Kids Challenge makes it a top priority to create, and recognize, win-win situations when it comes to the health of our children. Regarding the final USDA rules for school lunch, they are a huge step forward in improving school nutrition.

They also serve to create a win-win in the middle of an overall “food fight” mentality:

  • Win by eating more fruits, veggies, whole grains, and low-fat dairy
  • Win by eating less fat and sodium
  • Win by serving proper portions

Sounds a whole lot like MyPlate and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, eh? I bet that’s not an accident.

I am by no means saying they are THE solution. They join the growing body of healthy sustainable changes; ultimately leading to a healthy environment for our kids (and all of us, really). It took months of compromises, public comments, trade groups, politics, and more, to come to these final rules. The end result is a set of rules that everyone can benefit from – #1 being our kids. Yes, there is still work to be done. It’s going to take creativity and cooperation to make budgets and timelines work. But we are all on the same team. And now we can move forward and make the best of the situation, with what we have, wherever we are.

In that spirit, I’d like to offer some tips to help you do what you can to make your own school’s meals into a win-win situation.

Show and Tell. Create a bulletin board or display table in the cafeteria showing some of the new foods and options that will be coming to your school’s meals.

Leader Lunch. Invite key administrators and school board members to lunch! Let them sample a tray made from the new menu. Present the guidelines and explain how you will implement them. Here is a sample menu from USDA.

Teach Teachers. Create a simple fact sheet about the new guidelines. Share at their staff meetings. Invite them to try new, improved school lunches.

Ask Students. If you already have a student advisory group, have them complete some menu surveys. If not, select a small group of students to survey. Ask questions about favorite fruit and veggie choices and whole grain foods to assist you with your menu planning.

For the official USDA press release and actual standards, click here: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cga/PressReleases/2012/0023.htm

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