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Schools are Changing Food Programs to Promote Healthy Eating

January 21, 2013
Plain English Version

School breakfast and lunch may be almost half of a child’s weekly meals. The nation’s largest school districts are now going to serve healthier meals in their food programs.

The new Urban School Food Alliance brings Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and Orlando together. They will use their combined purchasing power to buy healthy food. They also want to buy environmentally friendly trays and utensils.

The question is, can their buying power bring down the cost of organic chicken, whole grains and fresh fruit?

Nutritionists say sugar, salt and fat in school food programs contribute to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes among young people.

The programs are changing the food they serve. L.A. is serving whole grains and fruit. New York has salad bars. Chicago no longer sells cupcakes. Schools are limiting vending machines to fruit juice and water.

Los Angeles now bans flavored milk, and no longer serves nachos and chicken nuggets. Some of the new items are not popular – quinoa salad, vegetable curry and brown rice cutlets have flopped. Vegetarian burritos are popular.

To show they are serious, all of the school districts are going to serve the same lunch in March 2013. It will be “savory roasted chicken, brown rice with seasoned black or red beans, steamed broccoli, fresh seasonal fruit and milk.”

An expert said, “It is a long way from a peanut butter sandwich.”

The Los Angeles Times

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