School Nutrition

The Lempert Report
February 23, 2022

Phil: Sally, what do your kids think about school lunch? 

Sally:Hi, Phil. My kids take their lunch to school and, sometimes they eat school lunch, but, but usually they take their own and that's because they don't really care for the food that is served there. So, so this is, this is really a topic that's really interesting to me because my kids also go to title one public schools. And what that means is that more than 80% of the kids in their school are economically disadvantaged. So school breakfast and lunch is free. And during virtual time last year, you could even go and pick up your weeks' supply of breakfast and lunch for free and take it home for the kids. 

Phil: So what don't they like about the school lunch? 

Sally: They don't like they, they don't eat very, very high salty foods. They like those, they, they don't like the milk that they serve. It. They say it tastes different to them. And I think that maybe like the, the vegetables and the fruits are just prepared and served in a different way than what they are used to used to at home. Yeah. Now I am. Yeah. And, and I'm a big, you know, I'm a big home cooker and big on fresh fruits and vegetables. But I really wish that the school lunch program worked for them because, you know, we could, we could really one, it would save us a lot of money, but, but also, you know, I think that it promotes equity and good eating habits when all of the kids eating the same thing. 

Phil: Yeah, I think you're right. So here's what we're hearing, out of Washington. And if, and if you recall, a few years ago when the Obama administration took place, Michelle Obama created the let's move campaign. We were part of it at supermarket guru and she said help standards for schools. It was doing really, really well until the next administration came in. And, the U S D A secretary, Sonny Purdue relaxed those regulations. But hopefully, there's gonna be some changes. So on milk, the schools and childcare providers, who are serving kids age six and older may now offer flavored low fat 1% milk. In addition to nonfat flavored milk and nonfat or low fat unflavored milk, whole grains are back. At least 80% of the grain serves in school, lunch and breakfast each week must be whole grain, rich and sodium,, not what I'd like to see, but the weekly sodium limit for school lunch and breakfast will remain at the current level for school lunch. Only there will be a 10% decrease in 2023 to 2024. Now these are just interim steps. Hopefully, the Biden administration is going to push it even further, go back to a lot of what Michelle Obama had structured and planned. And we can hopefully, you know, get our kids healthier in lunch.