Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cafeteria Food…Healthy or Unhealthy?

By Dupé Aleru|April 6, 2011|8:41 a.m.

Most of us cringe at the thought of our students and/or children eating the cafeteria food in today’s schools. We all remember the miniature juice boxes, milk and those darn tater-tots! I mean really?! I remember kids use to fight over those “fake” french fries I like to call them.

Oh, and let’s not forget about the coleslaw…YUCK! I mean, who invented that? Seriously, it’s like rabbit food mixed in thick muddy dressing.

Well, we all have our memories and opinions about cafeteria food, but are they really as unhealthy as they seem? Well let’s take a look.

To some, school meals are healthy well-balanced meals that meet the science-based federal nutrition standards.

Now here is where you ask, how? Let’s find out how.
  • No more than 30%  of calories come from fat, less than 10% from saturated fat
  • Meals provide 1/3 of the Recommended Dietary Allowances of protein, Vitamin A & C, iron and calcium
  • Food is served with appropriate portion size (according to age)
For most, this is not enough to be considered “healthy”, but one can argue that in this new era of healthy eating—Americans taking on the Vegetarian, Vegan and healthy choices lifestyle— there will be a turnaround soon.

According to Tray Talk, “the federal nutrition standards for school meals are currently being updated. In January 2011, the US Department of Agriculture released proposed nutrition standards including new calorie and sodium limits, larger fruit and vegetable serving sizes and requirements to expand the variety of vegetables served in schools each week. The standards will be finalized in 2012.

With Michele Obama’s Let’s Move program, more than 53,000 school nutrition professionals are partnering to improve our school nutrition program. All in all, school nutrition will make a turn…hopefully for the better.

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