Eat Healthy, Colorful Meals At School Now!
Students of America, here is some good news for you!!! The federal government is planning to make your school lunches more colorful and healthier. School lunches are supposed to be healthy but now, with the nutrition standards improving further, lunchtime will be more colorful too. So, get ready for the lunch-hour at school.
New Standards On The Menu
School lunches in America have already faced a lot of flak from different quarters. You must already be familiar with British chef Jamie Oliver’s very public display of criticism against the Los Angeles schools. Faced with such onslaught, the government is planning to revolutionize the lunch plates all over the country and efforts in this regard have already started. When you go to school next, chances are that you would be looking at a plate full of red peppers, purple cabbage, green Jell-O, and yellow squash. See, what we mean by color and health. Colors are seriously associated with health benefits and the government seems to have realized it finally. It is evident from the fact that even your beloved French fries have taken on an orange hue because these are made with sweet potato now. More fruits, whole grains, raw vegetables seems to be the driving force behind the government’s lunch efforts.
The New Hues
The school administrations have been directed that the lunches should be served in a variety of colors. Moreover, there should not be any limitation on the number of times per week that vegetables like corn and potatoes are served. Thankfully, the American school lunch ideas will be much better now. Sample some of the menu changes and you will understand what awaits you at the school cafeteria:
In Knoxville, Tennessee, students get to eat a wholegrain crust pizza, which is topped with sweet potato puree sauce made with reduced sodium. There is spinach Maria or steamed broccoli and melon slices to go with it. The food is made either with locally-grown vegetables or is based on local specialties.
Alexandria, Virginia schools are giving their students Baja fish tacos to eat with broccoli slaw and brown rice. Besides, there is a choice of assorted fruit and vegetables too on the menu.
Miami is offering entrees to the students during lunch time. Prominent among these are oven-roasted chicken (that is orange), Montego Bay Sauce made with pineapple and orange, romaine and spinach salad and seasonal fruits, including the local delicacy star fruit.
The School Lunch Program
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) of the country is a “federally assisted meal program operating in public and non-profit private schools and residential child care institutions.” The main objective of the school lunch program is to make sure that the students get “nutritionally-balanced, low-cost or free lunches” to the students every day at school. The program was launched under the National School Lunch Act, which was signed by President Harry Truman in 1946. Since the eating habits all over the country are changing fast, so is the nature of school lunches. For this, the government came under a lot of flak from public health advocates. As a result, schools were issued first nutritional guidelines in 15 years last year. Thanks to the First Lady, Michelle Obama, the new standards meant healthier school lunches.
Need For Nutrition
The program served lunch to 31 million children every school day in 2011. Sandra Ford, who heads the School Nutrition Association (SNA), says, “For too many of America's school children, school lunch is the only balanced meal they will receive all day. School foodservice professionals are working hard to provide students with the healthiest meals to help them succeed in the classroom and beyond.” Her words hold a lot of weight because she represents 55,000 professionals working on school nutrition. It is this team, which has had an influence on the new guidelines. As Ford informs, “We offer a lot of choices. If they’ve never tasted squash before, we encourage the kids to try it. It may just be a slice of zucchini or a slice of squash, but it’s a start.”
In order to understand the concept of school lunches better, a school teacher even went to the extent of feeding herself what was served in the cafeteria of her school. What she revealed was really an eye-opener. However, it has taken the federal government much more to come to terms with the reality. Let us hope that now, this school lunch program will not get derailed mid-way and the children will continue to be served nutritious food for their lunch.