Do you know how many calories are in your child’s school lunch?
A panel from the Institute of Medicine (part of the National Academies) has recommended to the government that school-provided meals should include more fruits, vegetables and wholegrains – even though this would push costs up.
You might think this is a no-brainer: of course our kids should be getting healthy and nutritious meals at school.
With nearly a third of American children overweight or obese, schools need to set a standard for healthy eating.
But the cost of fresh produce could push an average school breakfast up by 25% and a lunch by 9%.
Obama has suggested a $1 billion a year increase in funding for school meals.
But…. there’s currently no source for that extra money.
Recommendations from the Institute of Medicine
The report by the Institute of Medicine recommended:
- An upper calorie limit (currently, there’s only a set minimum calorie amount per meal)
- Gradual lowering of salt levels over the next decade
- At least half of the breads and grains provided should contain 50% wholegrains
- More fruit servings – no more than half of them as juice
- More vegetables – focusing on leafy green and orange vegetables rather than starchy ones like potatoes
- Serving 1% or fat free milk, to cut saturated fat levels
Maximum calorie levels for School Lunches
Lunches should not exceed:
- 650 calories for students in grades K-five
- 700 claories for children in grades six-eight
- 850 calories for those in grades nine-12.
Breakfast calories should not exceed:
- 500, 550, and 600 calories respectively for these grade groups.
Why not just pack their lunch?
In a perfect world, yes, that would be the perfect solution.
However, many of the kids most at risk for obesity are coming to school relying on it to provide nourishment.
Many parents lack the knowledge or even money to pack healthy lunches for their children.
The school lunch is perhaps the one place where these at risk kids should be getting a nutritionally dense, high quality meal.
If your kids eat school breakfasts or lunches, do you have concerns about the nutritional standards and the amount of calories in their school lunches?
Does their school provide plenty of healthful options?