With the new school year just around the corner, parents’ attention is
turning to school clothes, supplies, and lunches. Yes, school lunches!
In past years, USDA had used our nation’s schools as a dumping ground
for surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, one-third of
children have become overweight or obese. Their early dietary flaws
become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of diabetes, heart
disease, and stroke.
Gradually, the tide is turning. New guidelines mandated by President
Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, require doubling the servings of
fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less sodium and fat, and no
meat for breakfast. A survey released last week shows the guidelines
supported by 86% of Americans.
Sixty-four percent of U.S. school districts now offer vegetarian
options. More than 120 schools, including the entire school districts of
Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles,
Oakland, Philadelphia, and San Diego have implemented Meatless Monday.
Some schools have dropped meat from their menu altogether.
As parents, we need to work with school cafeteria managers and our own
children to encourage the availability and consumption of healthy,
plant-based school foods. Entering “vegetarian options in schools”
provides lots of good resources.
Lupe Infraine, Laguna Beach