This article is from the October 20th issue of the national produce newspaper The Packer.
Schools told to add produce despite the cost
By Tom Karst
School meals should include more fruits and vegetables in addition to a new set of nutrition targets and standards for menu planning, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine.
Called “School meals: building blocks for healthy children,” the report recommends bringing school meals in line with the latest Dietary Guidelines, according to a news release from the National Academy of Sciences. The report’s findings were announced at a news conference Oct. 20 in Washington, D.C.
The IOM recommends limits on sodium in school meals, establishing a maximum number of calories and encouraging
children to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, the news
The amount of fruit offered in breakfasts should increase to one cup per day for all grades and in lunches should increase to one cup per day for students in grades nine through twelve, and the report said that no more than half of the fruit schools provide should be in the form of juice.
The IOM said the amount of vegetables offered should increase to three-quarters of a cup per day for kindergarten through eighth grade and one cup per day for grades nine through twelve.
“Schools should offer starchy vegetables such as potatoes less often and provide at least one half cup each of green leafy vegetables, orange vegetables and legumes per week,” the report said.
Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition for the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington D.C., said Oct. 19 that United Fresh and other advocates hope the U.S. Department of
Agriculture will begin formal rulemaking on adopting the Institute’s recommendations by next fall and have a formal plan in place in about two years.
“This should really start the clock ticking on USDA issuing a proposed rule,” DiSogra said.
The nutrition standards for school lunches haven’t been updated in 14 years, but the USDA has not been successful in beginning rulemaking on the issue, DiSogra said. Similar to when changes were made to the Women, Infant and Children food packages to reflect the 2005 Dietary Guidelines, the USDA asked the institute to make the politically sensitive recommendations.
“The time is long overdue to bring (school meals) in compliance with the guidelines,” DiSogra said. Read the rest here.
This is good news for both the students and our local farmers.
Here are some comparisons between the current and the new recommendations:
Fruits and Vegetables
Current: ½ to 1 cup of fruits and vegetables combined.
New recommendation: ½ to 1 cup of vegetables plus ½ to 1 cup of fruit.
Current: No specifications as to type of vegetables.
New recommendations: Weekly requirements for dark green and orange vegetables, and limits on starchy vegetables.