School Lunches: New and Improved

Author: Activate Allen County

February 21, 2016

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School lunches have changed a lot over the years, in hopes of creating a healthier meal for students everywhere. A lot of parents and students choose to pack a lunch because a school lunch seems unhealthy, unfresh, and to some students, completely disgusting. If your child is one of these students, they need to rethink the decision to pack a lunch. The school lunch stereotypes have been broken.

The USDA has worked to provide students with healthier, fresher, and better tasting options at lunchtime. If your child is tired of a packed lunch, here’s the school menu options that they can look forward to.

Fruits and vegetables. Schools are now offering canned, fresh, frozen, and dried fruits and vegetables throughout the school day. There is now a much wider variety of fruits and vegetables offered, including red, orange, and dark green vegetables, not just the same old same old.

More whole-grain foods. School lunches now include a lot of whole grain options such as brown rice, pasta, oatmeal, pancakes, and tortillas. To make lunches more interesting, a lot of schools are getting creative with the healthy foods that they are provided with. For instance, a lot of schools are making stirfry’s using brown rice and using whole grain bread and tortillas for sandwiches and wraps. Don’t think the traditional meals will completely go away! Schools can use the whole grain rigatoni topped with low sodium spaghetti sauce, and serve with whole wheat flour breadsticks.

Both low-fat milk and fat-free milk are offered. Milk is still offered to provide students with a source of calcium, but now they can get the calcium with fewer calories and less saturated fat. Schools also provide milk substitutes for those students who have allergies or are lactose intolerant.

Less saturated fat and salt. Although students may not know or care, you may be happy to know that a variety of the foods offered are reduced in salt and saturated fat. Some of these dishes include beans, peas, nuts, tofu, seafood, and some meats and poultry. There are also fat-free potato wedges available to schools; there are a lot of menu options that have been made healthier and students may not even be able to notice.

Sugar. Now schools have canned fruit packed in extra light sucrose syrup or slightly sweetened fruit juice. Items such as applesauce are now unsweetened. The USDA has cut out a lot of the unnecessary sugars that were once present in school menu items.

School lunches are new and improved. If your child chooses to eat the school lunch, they can be sure that they have plenty of healthy and fresh menu options available. Most of the menu options are meals that kids actually enjoy eating; now, the options are just made of items that are much healthier! Visit Activate Allen County to get more information on how schools are doing more to promote health and wellness among students.