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You Are What You Eat (at School): Report Shows Healthy School Lunches Tied to Higher Student Test Scores

The 74 Million – Kevin Mahnken

“Efforts to make school meals more nutritious have yielded noticeably positive results, according to a paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. That progress, however, isn’t measured in lower obesity rates, but in improved academic performance. The study collected data between 2008 and 2013 from roughly 9,700 California public schools, comparing the vast majority that prepare meals in-house to those that contract with outside vendors. Measuring the nutritional quality of the vendors’ meals against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Eating Index, the authors found that students who ate healthy meals at school also scored slightly better on California’s STAR tests (then the state’s standardized examinations of annual student progress, which have since been replaced by another system).”(more)

White House relaxes Obama-era healthy school lunch rules

BBC – Staff Writer

“The Trump administration has loosened nutritional standards aimed at making US school lunches healthier that were championed by former first lady Michelle Obama. New Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue postponed reductions in sodium, relaxed requirements for whole grains and allowed sweetened flavoured milk back. One in five US children is obese, the US government says. More than 30m mostly poor children eat federally-funded school lunches. The 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act made federal grants for meals conditional on reductions in calories, sodium and trans fat content and increases in fruit, vegetables and whole grains.”(more)

Obesity campaigners call for more salads and fewer puddings in school

BBC – Staff Writer

“School meals should include fewer puddings and more fresh vegetables, according to a report. Obesity Action Scotland (OAS) said improvements to school meals could play an important part in reducing childhood obesity. It wants to highlight the issue ahead of the council elections in two weeks’ time. The Scottish government said a review of school food and drink nutritional standards was under way. OAS is calling on local government election candidates to commit to transform school meals in Scotland “from a feeding culture to an eating culture”. The organisation said it wanted unprocessed or “minimally processed” foods used wherever possible and vegetables, soup and salads prioritised over puddings.”(more)

Should your school serve local food?

The Guardian – Nicola Slawson

“At a state school in Harrogate, Steve Ashburn is busy serving 950 lunches to hungry children – using ingredients sourced from local suppliers. The menu is impressive. Options include Easingword pork escalopes, stuffed with leek and Wensleydale cheese, followed by Wakefield rhubarb possett for dessert. As a foodie and proud Yorkshire man, Ashburn is a strong advocate for creating seasonal menus using quality ingredients, and putting as much business through local producers as he can. Within weeks of Rossett school hiring him, the former restaurant chef had set about changing how the children ate, by sourcing ingredients for school meals from his former restaurant suppliers.”(more)

Too few school lunch boxes meet nutritional standards

Medical X-Press – Sophie Freeman

“Only a tiny proportion of children’s packed lunches are meeting nutritional standards, despite high-profile awareness campaigns, a University of Leeds study has found. Researchers in the School of Food Science and Nutrition found that just 1.6 per cent of primary children’s packed lunches met the nutritional standards set for their classmates eating in the school canteen. Less than a fifth (17 per cent) contained any vegetables or salad, while more than half (52 per cent) contained too many sweet snacks. Lead researcher Dr Charlotte Evans, a nutritional epidemiologist in the University’s School of Food and Nutrition, said: “I hope the results of the study are an eye-opener, highlighting that more stringent policies need to be introduced if we want to see real change in the nutritional value of children’s packed lunches.”(more)

How to feed children when school meals end for summer vacation

The Christian Science Monitor – Allyn Rosenberger

“Nearly 22 million low-income children receive free or reduced-priced meals during the school year through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), according to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). FRAC’s annual summer meals report, however, found that only one in six of these children receives summer meals through the two federal summer nutrition programs—the NSLP Seamless Summer Option and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The nonprofit Feeding America is working to expand summer food access to millions of low-income children. Feeding America believes that the “gap of one in six summer to school-time participants is the result of various barriers experienced only during the summer, including a lack of access to meal sites, insufficient program awareness, and limited resources when schools are closed.” Feeding America utilizes their nationwide network of food banks to combat these barriers and enact nutritious summer food service programs.”(more)