Is This School Lunch Revolution in Action?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Earlier this year the First Lady unveiled the new school lunch guidelines. The revised USDA nutrition standards require schools to update menus to increase fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free fluid milk or low-fat dairy while lowering sodium, saturated and trans fat levels.
Implementing the revised standards is expected to increase food costs for many school districts that are already facing tight budgets. However, creative food service administrators have already begun providing healthier meals while still maintaining their bottom line. One creative program that has caught their attention seems to be a quick service option with a goal to "provide added nutrition benefits to the most popular entrée served in schools to help give kids energy to learn, grow and play." When administrators notice how the cost effective quick service option easily meets the revised USDA guidelines while also collaborating with reputable organizations like the Whole Grains Council, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and the School Nutrition Association, the program certainly increases in credibility. So what quick service program is targeting schools?

That would be the Domino's Smart Slice school lunch program. According to a press release last week, the program that launched three years ago has almost tripled in the number of schools they service over the past year. One reason for the increase is likely that the company anticipated school lunch change was on the horizon and developed a program to meet that change. When Domino's Smart Slice pizza is served with fat-free milk and a fruit or vegetable side item, it qualifies as a National School Lunch Program reimbursable meal.
Domino's estimates that two-thirds of all U.S. schools are no more than nine minutes away from one of their local stores. This allows schools to receive hot and fresh ready-to-serve pizza when it is time for lunch service in main lunch lines or as an a la cart service option.. Domino's developed a nutrition conscious product for schools made with specialty ingredients. The new product is more nutritious than the frozen alternatives many school districts have been using and saves money on staffing needs for preparation as well as space for storage.
Here is how a slice of Smart Slice pizza compares with a traditional slice:
Domino's Smart Slice Cheese Pizza (1 slice of a 16" pizza)
Calories – 300
Fat – 8 grams
Sodium – 540 mg
Carbohydrate – 38 grams
Fiber – 4 grams
Protein – 21 grams
Domino's Hand Tossed Cheese Pizza (1 slice of a 16" pizza)
Calories – 380
Fat – 13.5 grams
Sodium – 830 mg
Carbohydrate – 46 grams
Fiber – 2 grams
Protein – 16 grams
What do you think? Is this the school lunch revolution you had in mind to help improve childhood obesity? Is there a place for healthier versions of favorite foods on school menus?

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Crazy!! It's all processed and high calories. That is why I pack my son's lunch each day! Report
How about Domino's offer its Smart Slice to retail customers? If I were to consider ordering delivery pizza, I'd be far more interested if I could choose the "school lunch" version, which they say uses white whole wheat flour, reduced sodium pizza sauce, reduced fat cheese, and low fat toppings. Report
As a lunch lady, I see all sides to this issue. And I work diligently to prepare meals that are both healthy and appealing to a child. Granted, I work in a private school, but still use commodities...and, at least what I use, the products are not that bad. As our guidelines change to promoting whole grains, dark green and orange veggies, etc. food producers are also changing. A baked chicken nugget with whole grain coating may still be a chicken nugget--but a healthier version. Calorie limits and nutritional values are crucial in my menu planning.

If you're concerned about your school's lunches, do something. Talk to your food service director. Encourage them to join in the USDA's Healthier School Challenge which combines good nutrition, wellness and physical education. And keep talking! Just don't go crazy like Jamie Oliver did. :)

As for lunches from home? My lunches are healthier than a Lunchable. Diligence from parents is needed here, too. As is bringing healthy snacks for birthdays and other occasions--not cupcakes with that nasty, neon icing.

But what it all really comes down to is this--It's not nutrition if it's not eaten. Encouraging children to try new, healthier foods really does start at home.

And yes we made 38 pizzas a day for the kids yes frozen crust and regular ingredients but we the staff made them and made sure the were served nice and hot not too hot you know what I mean for the kids. Report
I use to work in the school kitchen we had fruit, salad, chef salad everyday alot of different food and good food too but when the usda say we have to put 4 slices of cheese to meet the quantification for a grilled cheese who fault is that and 4tbsp for PBJ sandwich if they the usda would come for in a inspect food like that and it wasn't right we would get hit with a warning or a $$$fine Yes we had good food for the kids but they yes they choose not to take it for their lunch. It all starts at home. Report
Alot of schools have very unhealthy food choices. Wraps, pizza, starchy foods, fries. My sons go to colleges where choices are very bad. It would be great to see healthier choices for lunches. Report
I am a firm believer in the old lunch programs where foods were prepared from scratch were cheaper than boxed prepared foods. We had wonderful, healthful, balanced good-for-us meals full of neutrientts with vegetables and fruits. As children, we complained but that was because children often prefer the unhealthy sweets, & bad carbs. Childrens minds are developing and need loving guidance.
We all need to learn and be taught what happens with poor choices in anything we do.
Revolution begins with each one of us which can be accomplished within our own communities through knowledge, research and history.
We are allowing the influences of television and other media resources, games to brain wash the minds of our children (our future). We are becoming lazy and caving in to convenience of boxed prepared & fast foods for immediate gratification. Most of us (not all) see & allow too much of the media marketing influence of unhealthy foods extending to immorial behavior that it is becoming acceptable and okay. Yes, it is our choice! Unfortunately, we observe & allow peer pressure to be accepted which lead us to poor choices. We need to stand up/stand out and SAY NO to poor choices in lifestyles of food, drugs, immoral behavior. Currently, these choices & search for instant gratification are flooding our society. This mindset results in fear of not being accepted, locked doors, bullies, & lonliness. Looking for replacements in the wrong place and sometimes even suicide results. We need a revolution of caring about our families and our neighborhoods, our future by having RESPECTFUL CONCERNS FOR THE LIFE AND LIFESTYLES IN GENERAL across the board! Everyone of us have a choice to look deep inside and find the courage to be responsible neighbors, people, citizens. We should not rely on the government to controll our decisions. We need to be responsible for our own actions and be accountable citizens. It is up to us to be incredable individuals to find a CHANGE to acheive better lifestyles. WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. I Report
If our local soup kitchen can serve healthy meals to people why cant the schools do it too.
Maybe some of the money we spend abroad should stay here. Some of these children will be our future leaders feeding them fast food, processed food instead of sound nutriition does not a healthy body make.
We never eat highly processed food but that is what the children are raised on.
It is long overdue it's time to get this revolution on its way we need to get the priorities right for our Children. Report
The real problem is that this qualifies as a reimburseable meal by the USDA. The USDA is not changing the guidelines enough. Until chicken nuggets, pizza, hot dogs, etc. are not acceptable by the USDA then the lunches will never be healthier for our kids. Schools can choose wiser but then the cost is higher and the prep. time is longer which means more staff is needed, lets face it when it comes to funding, schools are not getting more; they are getting less. Report
I am not happy with the pizza meal. But it is what kids are used to eating. And it's a step up from what pizza they were eating.
When Jamie Oliver tried wholesome fresh food, in his Food revolution. He hardly got it off the ground. Because it cost way more to have fresh healthy food, than the frozen government surplus crap that the kids eat now. Plus all the extra help in cooking and serving ,the schools can't afford.
Everyone cries about what the kids eat, but who is willing to lay out more money for decent food??
With our schools closing, over crowed , no sports, cutting music, crappy food, Something should be done, but what.?
Maybe everyone bring lunch from home,? Parents would be up in arms over that.
And then there are the kids that need the food they get at school, sometimes that's all they eat in a day. Report
Kudos to Dominos for finding a way to make a healthier pizza. BUT I don't think fast food has a regular place in the school cafeteria. I realize kids don't like too many good-for-you foods but school is where they should LEARN what to eat!! Report
I guess this is an effort? but really, people gasp at the statistics about childhood obesity, yet their kids are forced (when they are free/reduced) to eat crap all the time! I understand it takes more preparation for healthier eats, but Mrs. Obama should be looking at how to make wholesome foods available to kids, and how much money it would take. It's depressing to see that the solution right now is "healthy" Domino's pizza. Report
This is really stupid! A fastfood restaurant targetting our schools! Really people, why don`t the school cooks actually cook any more?
And also, the area I live in has at least 200 schools and I don`t even know where a Dominoes is....9 minutes away???????????? I think closer to 100 miles away!
And I work for the school district, by the way.
! Report
It is still highly processed. If the cooks made the pizza themselves it may be a different story, but I do not feel that pizza belongs in schools. They get enough of that at home, let's open their horizons a little. Report
It's crazy that anything so damamging as a bread based entree is ever served. Our kids, need whole foods, not processed carbage Report
Sometimes I think we have been brainwashed to think that pizza is such a super treat. It was often used as a reward food in schools (I have been away from schools for years now so I am not sure what goes on). Now that I am reviewing my own food choices, I wonder what I ever saw in pizza. I think it tasted good to me because everyone was telling me it is yummy. I laughed when I went to sporting events and saw spectators flock to the snack stands to buy stuff like pizza, then take it to the bleachers to watch super-toned athletes! Report
Nope, not buying it. Domino's is a national chain with profit on its mind. When my school starts buying fresh, sustainably raised ingredients from local small and midsize farmers and cooking meals from scratch, THEN I will allow my children to buy lunch. Health will improve, jobs will be created, and the local economy will be supported. Report
If they truly want to save money, and have the kids eat a healthier lunch, why not make a recycled greenhouse which would produce freggies all year. They could get the kids involved in growing the veggies they would be eating. Ironically, the main day that my daughter absolutely refuses to buy lunch is... you guessed it pizza day. She would rather have her whole wheat health nut peanut butter sandwich with a piece of fruit and carrot sticks from home, oh and that all important water. Report
At least it is a step in the right direction. The pizza is healthier than what was being served--less fat, carbs, and sodium, higher in protein and fiber. It is being served with nonfat milk and either a piece of fruit or a vegetable. Take this with a grain of salt, but when most parents I know serve pizza to their children, it is with soda and some supersweet dessert. No fruit or vegetables (except for whatever is a "pizza topping").

Sometimes things have to be taken in "baby steps". I distinctly remember when I was a child, I simply threw out what I didn't like--occasionally it was close to the whole meal if it was too "gross". I think not having kids eat any lunch would be worse.

(Just out of curiosity, I put the "old" pizza slice and the "new" pizza slice through the Weight Watchers calculator. The old is 10 points, the new is 8 points.) Report
I don't even feel qualified to comment. I almost always took a packed lunch to school and college and even now at work I hardly ever eat out even though I could. Its too expensive and not even all that convenient let alone the health aspects. Report
Although I've never been a Domino's fan, at least they are making an effort to create something a bit healthier for kids. That said, small kids learn by watching the people around them. No matter what is served in schools if they have seen their families eating healthy food, then for the most part they will make wiser choices. I have nothing against the schools teaching classes about good nutrition, but it's the parents who have to lead the way by example. Children may not always make the best choices(in our opinion) but they will remember what they learn at home. Report
I am disgusted by what they serve to the kids at the schools here. I talked with my son (high school) and hopefully he is making wise choices when he gets his lunch. They do have a salad bar and he does eat a salad almost every day. Even though they want to serve a better pizza, I don't agree that they should have it on a regular basis Report
Our county is so poor that we have free breakfast and lunch offered. My son eats breakfast at home: organic, whole grain cereal with whole milk (he has a super-fast metabolism and needs the fat so no hopping down my throat about that, please). I asked him about the breakfast options at school, and it's typically sugar with sugar and sugar. "Cereal bars" - like Fruit Loop bars. Cereal is offered - the sugary puffy multi-colored kind. Or pancakes and syrup, or cinnamon rolls with icing. It's pretty amazing.

Lunch is a little better but we limit them anyway. The lunch he takes to school - peanut butter and jam on whole wheat bread, carrots, apple and juice - is better than what they typically get: sugar, salt and fat. Salad is some iceberg lettuce with a couple shreds of carrot. Iceberg lettuce is like the french fry of the lettuce world! Whatever! Report
I don't care what it takes anymore. I'm homeschooling. I've had enough. Report
Uhh..well...hmmm. Smart Slice? Sounds Good. Probable even tastes good. But an everyday solution? No, I don't think so. Healthier lunches at school is a great idea and an admirable goal. But I don't think it is the magic ticket to making our children healthier all around. That needs to be coming from the home. The family. I am a bit uncomfortable with the government being the solution here. Report
I think people get so hung up in "improving" our school lunches that they sometimes overlook reality and a bigger picture. A local school is on a water system that has a water quality where pregnant and ill people are not supposed to drink the water. Plus it tastes horrible. When the "improved" lunch requirements came in, the children were told to drink the water from the tap and other choices were removed. Should children be drinking water that is not good enough for pregnant and ill folks? The school is in compliance, but at what cost?
I think it is irresponsible to serve Pizza as an approved food in schools period. Regardless of whether or not this item fits into the guidelines and is "healthier" than the alternative "regular" pizza.... the fact of the matter we are perpetuating a behaviour. We are teaching kids that pizza is an okay choice, that fast food is an okay choice. We are not teaching kids how to eat. Outside of school kids will reach for pizza and not worry if it is the "smart school" version. They will know that they like pizza and that it's a good choice based on what has been ingrained in them at school. It's ridiculous. Report
If we want our kids to eat healthy food at school we need to invest the funds in our kids. Healthy food takes preparation time and that means hiring people to cook not just heat processed foods. People that are reliable, have no criminal histories, can legally work in the USA, and actually know or can learn to cook- these people need to make more than minimum wage or they aren't going to stay and you will have continual turnover.

Healthy food means the lean cuts of meat which are the most expensive. It means fresh fruits and vegetables which again cost money. It means whole grains which cost money too. It isn't cheap to eat healthy.

I can see schools serving this pizza twice a month at the most. I really don't see much labor savings and I skeptical about the cost of providing this pizza.

If taxpayers are willing to fund a healthy food program at the schools then thats great. If taxpayers aren't willing or able to put up the money they should stop making all these demands on the school system. I think most schools are trying to do the best they can with the resources they have available. Taxpayer eyes can't be bigger than their pocketbooks. Report
While not ideal, at least it's a step in the right direction. Especially since it's a healthier version of a kid-friendly food. Report
I'm not sure I like the idea of kids eating dominoe's pizza for lunch every day. I am sure there is a healthier and more reasonable solution. Report
I get so frustrated with our school and them constantly talking about how healthy meals and healthy breakfast is so important. Then they serve the equivalent of "fair food" at lunch and pop tarts and cinnamon toast crunch for breakfast. There are a few healthy options but what they consider "healthy" and what I do are very different. Report
As a future teacher and as someone who is in the classroom now I am horrified at the quality of the food especially since I am working in a school with most students receiving reduced rate or free lunch. For some this is the only meal they'll have during the day and it's super unhealthy. My last day of work the options were: Cheeseburger, pepperoni pizza, or pizza dipper. Besides maybe the side there was NO healthy options. This was also unfortunately the norm everyday. There has to be something done and sorry but dominoes smart slices arent doing anything Report
WEll, given a choice between Domino's Smart Slice and a piece of the frozen, pre-packaged crap they USUALLY serve on pizza day, I'd rather the fresh made one, but not as a daily meal. This should be something only available once per week.

It's far more important to serve children food with FLAVOR, and that's where these schools fail time and time again. The reason kids won't eat school lunches has less to do with the nutritional content and the fact that the food itself tastes like tomato-encrusted cardboard.

Making lunches is best, but unfortunately for many families, isn't feasible. We owe it to our children to fuel them. School budgets are the problem here... not the guidelines. We need to give them more money if we're going to expect them to teach our kids how to be healthy. Report
I hope this won't be the only change, but I think having healthier versions of favorite foods is always good. Kid appeal is still really important to feeding kids. Eating shouldn't be a drudgery. Part of this is helping kids appreciate a wide range of healthy foods, but part of it is also finding healthy foods that kids like.

I like the idea of a school lunch revolution. While we're at it, we should have a fast food revolution. That has to come from the private sector ultimately, but government standards and consumer demands can help it to happen.
My daughter's school initiated a NutriKids program this year to ensure that all kids were getting a healthy meal, and helped eliminate the need for young children to carry cash. Parents load money into their child's account which is tied to their student id. If you forget to upload, the child still gets a meal and you are sent a reminder.

I can only speak for the high school choices, as that's where my daughter attends. They have salad bars, low-fat entrees, fruit and milk as well as juices and water. They can pick and choose what they want from what's available, but it's all healthy choices. Report
I am a substitute cafeteria worker. Several times a month, I get to see what the kids are being served. I know it will change in the fall, but right now the kids get one main dish, one fruit, one vegetable and lowfat milk (regular or chocolate). The main dish is usually something like pizza, chicken nuggets or patties, burritos, etc.

The cooks don't actually cook - they just heat. It has been a long, long time since any real cooking or food preparation was done in the kitchen. But don't blame the cooks - the ones I've spoken to would gladly fix healthier, cooked meals - it is the districts that decide what lunch or breakfast will be. The new food guidelines from Mrs. Obama will just mean more "creative" ways to get the same prepackaged food to the kids.

Silly me. I was all set to be excited over fresh-cooked, fresh-ingredient meals in the schools, only to find out it wasn't a health revolution, it was delivery. Yeah, pizza, that's what I think of when I think of healthy food to serve to kids. Report
While every step forward in helping kids eat healthier is important and this is better than the before pizza's served, this doesn't really help kids understand and make healthy food choices. Report
I am curious about what kind of crust this SMART Domino's pizza has. We order Domino's pizza occasionally, and I always get THIN crust. Not only do I prefer it, I know it has way fewer calories than regular crust. Report
The best bet is still to pack your childs lunch Report
Maybe I'm not thinking straight, but this is outrageous. It is shoving advertising down children's throats (literally in this case). I give them props for creating a healthier pizza, but I'm not sure this counts as "health food." If you really want to see a food revolution, take flavored milk out of schools completely. That would be a great first step.

My son attends a school where so many people are living below the poverty line that the whole school qualifies for the free breakfast system. I figured out that the average breakfast that the school serves comes in around 600 calories (half the recommended daily caloric intake for children that age). Until nonsense like that stops we can't come close to saying we have a "school lunch revolution" Report
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