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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)

Equipment Needed to Help Schools Serve Healthier Meals, Strengthen Child Nutrition

The Huffington Post – Alexis Glick, Tom Gallagher, Sec. Tom Vilsack & Roger Goodell

“Over the past seven years, we’ve made great progress to improve child nutrition. Obesity rates have fallen and the bipartisan work of Congress has helped move the needle on child nutrition legislation. Since 2009, USDA has awarded $215 million in school nutrition equipment grants; however, the simple need for up-to-date equipment and adequate appliances is still one of the biggest obstacles to providing quality nutrition to kids in schools across the country. While 95 percent of schools are successfully serving healthy meals, a 2014 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts showed that many could do so more effectively, and at lower cost, if they possessed updated tools in their kitchens and cafeterias.”(more)

School Lunches Contain Too Much BPA, Study Suggests

Education News – Kristin Decarr

“A new study released by researchers at Stanford University and the Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that school lunches may contain unsafe levels of BPA, or bisphenol A. The chemical, most often found in canned foods and plastic packaging, mimics human hormones and can be harmful for the developing brains of fetuses, infants and children…“There are known sources of BPA being used in school food,” said Jennifer C. Hartle, a postdoctoral research fellow…However,the head of the Maryland-based School Nutrition Association and a spokesman for the chemical industry disagrees with the findings, noting that the levels of BPA found in the study were all below established safety limits…Hartle did acknowledge that the levels of BPA a student might receive from one meal would be well below the threshold set by the federal government. However, that standard was set by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1988. She added that since that time over 100 studies have been performed, finding that much lower doses of BPA have resulted in negative health effects in animals.”(more)

Schools Report Varying Results in Their Efforts to Comply With Nutrition Guidelines

The New York Times – Ron Nixon

“As students lined up for lunch at the Washington Technology Magnet School cafeteria here on a recent late morning, taco pizza was available along with the fresh fruits and vegetables. Angie Gaszak, a school system nutritionist, said the school tries to offer a mix. “We want to make sure they eat healthy, but we also want to serve things that they will eat,” Ms. Gaszak said. It is a balance that is hard to achieve as school systems try to comply with legislation signed in 2010 by President Obama that required schools to update their nutritional standards…In some schools, fewer children are participating in the school meals program and food waste is increasing because students are not eating the healthier alternatives. The schools have asked Congress to delay some of the rules…”(more)

Why Students Hate School Lunches

The New York Times – Kate Murphy

“MORE than 30 million children trundle through school cafeteria lines every day in the United States and thanks to the Healthy, Hunger­Free Kids Act, which took effect in 2012, they are no longer served greasy pizza, salty French fries and sauced up chicken wings…Food and nutrition directors at school districts nationwide say that their trash cans are overflowing while their cash register receipts are diminishing as children either toss out the healthier meals or opt to brown­bag it. While no one argues that the solution is to scrap the law and go back to feeding children junk, there’s been a movement to relax a few of the guidelines as Congress considers whether to reauthorize the legislation, particularly mandates for 100 percent whole grains and extremely low sodium levels, so school meals will be a bit more palatable and reflective of culinary traditions.”(more)

Kids Who Are Time-Crunched At School Lunch Toss More And Eat Less

NPR Ed – Maria Godoy & Allison Aubrey

“Most of the kids in the U.S. don’t get much time to eat lunch. And by the time those kids wait in line and settle down to eat, many of them feel rushed. And a recent study suggests that this time crunch may be undermining good nutrition at school…The researchers took note of what students put on their trays. And they also tracked what was left on their trays at the end of lunch period. “Kids who had less than 20 minutes to eat were consuming, across the board, less of everything,” Rimm told us.”(more)