HEALTHY SCHOOL MEALS
In recent years, concerns have emerged about the overall nutrition content of school meals. These concerns are based on the findings that the diet of Americans contains too many calories, fat, saturated fat,, cholesterol and sodium. At the same time, Americans eat to few grains, fruits, and vegetables. A good diet can help reduce the occurrence of chronic diseases and promote good health and well-being.
As a first step in dealing with these concerns, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), issued the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), which established recommendations on diet changes which, if implemented, could bring about a healthy American diet. These guidelines call for moderation and the avoidance of extremes in the diet. USDA is committed to fully implementing the DGA in school meals.
USDA's School Meals Initiative for Healthy Children underscores our national health responsibility to provide healthy school meals that consistence with the Recommended Dietary Allowances, the calorie goals and the DGA's. This eating plan is illustrated in the Food Guide Pyramid.
Since excess fat in the diet has been connected to several serious conditions such as obesity, heart disease and some kinds of cancer (colon and breast), USDA is requiring that school meals do not exceed 30% calories from fat. To accomplish this goal, schools are offering more fruits, vegetables and breads, and serving low fat or fat free diary products, purchasing lower fat pre-pared products and using culinary procedures which reduce fat in meats.
Entire communities may actively participate in helping their students create lifelong healthy eating habits by helping their schools become Team Nutrition Schools.