Will Improving School Lunches Affect Childhood Obesity?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I've done numerous blogs about children and healthy eating. The topic has always interested me, but even more-so now that I have children of my own. Every day we hear statistics about the number of obese children in America and strategies for how to solve this growing problem. I wasn't familiar with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver until a few months ago, when I saw his new show being promoted on network television. I was curious to see if his approach to tackling childhood nutrition and obesity was going to work. Some say "yes", some say "no way".

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution takes place in Huntington, West Virginia, which has been labeled as one of the unhealthiest cities in America. It is based on a program he implemented in England five years ago, which sought to revamp the school lunch system and provide healthier options for kids. For more details on the show, check out 'Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution': Will It Work?, a dailySpark blog that was written when the show debuted.

England's new health minister, Andrew Lansley, is criticizing the government's attempt to raise the quality of state-funded school lunches as a result of Oliver's campaign. Lansley said that Oliver's experiment actually caused fewer children to eat school meals. More children started packing their lunches, so the schools implemented further controls by determining what foods the children were allowed to bring to school. Parents responded by giving their kids money to buy food outside of school, at local shops. So in the end, if kids wanted to get the junk food instead of having a nutritious meal, they'd have the resources to do it outside of school hours. "There is a risk if we constantly are lecturing people and trying to tell them what to do, we will actually find that we might undermine and be counterproductive in the results that we achieve," said Lansley.

According to the School Fund Trust (a government agency designed to improve children's meals), "There had been a dip in the take-up of school meals following Oliver's television campaign in 2005, but that this was probably because of the publicity the celebrity chef gave to the poor quality of food on offer at the time."

Although I have some reservations about Oliver's program, I applaud his efforts for trying to get things moving in the right direction. Is the school lunch program the best place to start? I think the place we really need to start is with parents, educating them, and creating behavior change for the whole family. Then good choices will naturally follow. If a healthy school lunch is offered, but parents give the child money to buy something else so they don't have to eat the school meal, that's not teaching anyone how to change. But does that mean that school lunch improvements aren't worth the effort?

What do you think? Is a program like Oliver's a good idea, better than nothing, or a waste of time? If it's not a good idea, what is your proposal for tackling the issue of childhood obesity?

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Here is a bigger problem - when Michelle Obama campaigned to change the school lunch programs - schools utilizing companies to do so had to change food contracts increasing the cost and some schools were told they could not be served due to a lack of profit. While I applaud a heathier lunch and agree it is good for the children this has to be weighed with the cost of providing it and the taxpayer's willingness to support it. Report
I believe that in some ways, school lunch can add to children's obesity, but I think it also lye's in the hands of the parents of guardian.
For my son, being that he is a picky eater and his high school campus is so large, even if chooses to eat school lunch, he is burning so many more calories. Report
we were fed crap in our school lunches and very few students ever had a weight problem. We had pizza, chicken nuggets, white bread and god forbid... hot dogs! The difference is we went outside to play. We rode our bikes, played tag, red rover, kick ball, and various other sports. The girls jumped rope, and on Fridays we were allowed to bring our boom box outside on the playground so we danced and made up dance routines. We also twirled our batons to the music.

In high school it wasn't cool for girls to eat, so most of us just got a carton of diet iced tea. Report
I strongy believe the government and the state need to leave parents alone when it comes to raising their kids. I believe that giving less homework would help the obesity problem more than anything else at this point. It does not matter if a child is sitting in front of an electronic screen or at the table doing his homework, either one impedes outside play and socialization with friends and/or family. If the government wants to promote healthy eating they should do just that, but do NOT demand it. Are they saying they love our kids more than we do, where are we in China? :/ Report
This generation of children are the first generation of kids not expected to live longer lives than their parents.

Scary, scary, words.

The problem is the LACK of education on EVERYONE's part. Before I started reading everything I could get my hands on, I was eating foods that I believed were good choices, but now realize that it was all processed crap! Until people stand up and start making themselves accountable for what they are putting in their child's bodies, then there will be no change, children will just get fatter, and they will live shorter lives than their parents. I applaud Jamie Oliver for addressing the issue and bringing the spotlight on what the government was feeding our children.

Read the chapter on school lunches in the book "Skinny Bitch." What the USDA and the government feed our children will appall and disgust you. Report
One thing one size does not fit all, a 4 year old does not need all the 10 year old needs.
And just changing the menu will not help. Changing some of the learning will. Starting in pre-k, teachers need to start talking about food and how effects the body.
It's like other things that school informs kids about, they will take it home and talk to their parents about.
My daughter has started my grandson on the right track, now if the schools will too.
My 4yr old grandson, now ask what this food or that food does for his body. It's really nice to hear. He also knows if he is hungry, he needs a healthy food before a junk food.

It's one step, as noted by many, in the process. I really like the idea of schools having a garden as a way for students to learn. It would wonderful if it began at home, but we have to admit how we were endoctrinated and brainwashed by the media. There's a saying, "and a child shall lead them"...the process works both ways. If the parents don't know and can't teach the children, then teach the child and hopefully the reverse will happen - menus at home will change. Report
I live in WV, the state with the "unhealthiest city" and the state with the 3rd leading obesity rate in the USA. I am also an elementary school teacher. The federal school lunch program is a good thing---it provides food for kids who are undernourished or might not even have a meal until they return to school the next day. In addition, it is offered to EVERY CHILD, regardless of their socio-economic status.

But this is not a West Virginia (or Mississippi or Louisiana or Arkansas or poor state) issue. It is occurring in every state and in every county/parish in the USA. Some schools just cannot provide better food quality, usually based upon the budget they're given and the regulations.

BUT... the school lunch program a federal program and it's regulated by the government. In addition, in WV, not only federal regulations but also state and county regulations are used. I defend most school cooks. These ladies/gentlemen are more than willing to use the fresh foods and actually cook nutritious meals, but they must use the processed foods that they're required to order.

In addition, most school cafeterias are understaffed. For instance, at my school, with a population of 300 students, we have 2 full-time cooks (which includes the cafeteria manager) and a 1/2 day cook. They provide breakfast and, then 3 hours later, lunch for the school population. (About 95% of the students buy lunch.) Quick turn around time to provide the lunch meal.

I think we DO need to improve the quality of school lunches. But it goes beyond blaming the "guys on the frontline," the school cooks. Place the county, state, and federal overseers on that hotseat, and I can almost guarantee there will be a difference in the quality of food.

Parents also need to reinforce what's better to eat and ensure their children are eating it. (Teachers and school nurses are doing what they can by reinforcement in having Healthy Snack Clubs, nutrition lessons, etc.) Report
It's all such a tricky issue. As a fan of Jamie Oliver and an individual who seeks out quality food, I suspect that better food at school will lead to healthier children. That being said, as many of you have pointed out, family practices around food and activity are powerful. Each of us has a lot of information about good food choices and exercise (SP is a dirth of information) but information isn't the whole story. Action is. Change and improvement won't happen without action. The quality of many school meals is poor; they need to be improved. As does the amount of physical activity many children have. In order to really improve things, parents need to make better choices for their children, parents need to have access to good quality food (there are too many food deserts in this country), parents need to be sure that their children have a safe place to play. Since many communities cannot assure these fundamentals then it should fall to the schools to supplement what isn't available.

I guess the crux of my thesis is that the solution to childhood obesity is multifaceted. Its more than food and exercise, yet they're a great place to start. Report
I think we all can agree that something needs to change, but as a teacher, I can tell you that offering better food does not in any way guarantee that kids will eat it! I have seen enough food get thrown out in a school cafeteria to feed an army. All the healthier alternatives offered sound good, but very few kids get past the first bite. It looks "gross" or tastes "funny" and out it goes. The kids just figure that they will wait until they get home and eat something then. Most likely, that will be the sorts of things they shouldn't eat. I do agree that taking out the sugared drinks from the vending machines in high school would help. My son is diabetic and it is very difficult to find decent low sugar choices in most vending machines. Something like Vitamin water or other water/juice combinations would be a good place to start. It's amazing how many calories people consume in a drink without giving it a thought (pure fruit juice included). Like others have said, it starts in the home. If we educate kids about nutrition and healthier choices as kids maybe things will be different when those kids become parents themselves. Report
It will help, but they are still getting there other two meal (breakfast and dinner) and snacks somewhere else. I think it will be great to offer more exercise options. Instead of jogging around the school 3 times, they could have aerobics or use free weights. Report
To have a government program tell you "how" is not the solution to the problem. I think other people have touched on the solution. It has to start at home. What would be the point of offering a healthy school lunch if the child got home and was served a meal of processed unhealthy foods. We live in such a fast paced society, where it is so easy to grab something easy. But let's face it, frozen pizza is not a home cooked meal, even if you bake it at home. Parents have to teach, by example, what good food choices are. A good solid meal doesn't need to be difficult, but it needs to be planned. This should include breakfast too, but this too is something which tends to be grab and go.

The family meal table needs to become something a little more sacred. It's not just the place to eat, but also the place where family members connect and communicate. Unfortunately for many kids, this isn't the case. Even in an intact family, people tend to need to rush off to sports or meetings.

I think that if we start early in breaking some of the bad habits we get into as far as food and mealtime, and communicate them to our kids, then they'll start to be change agents too. But if we set the example of grab and go and fast junk food, it's just going to be passed to the next generation. Report
Improving the school lunch program is one tool for solving the childhood obesity issue. It's not the only tool. Kids will eat what is provided for them. If their only choice is junk food then that's what they'll eat. If they have a choice of healthy foods then that's what they'll eat. If they have a choice of healthy foods and junk food, then whatever the "cool" kids eat is what the rest will want to eat.
Educating children and their parents about good nutrition is another tool. If we could get state education departments to create PSMs touting fruits and vegetables the way that the food industry touts candy and cookies, then children and their parents will think twice about what they eat.
A third tool is exercise. We need to reinstate daily PE in schools and encourage children to participate in active activities. It doesn't matter whether a child walks or plays a sport or is involved in swimming or gymnastics, he or she needs to move for at least 10 minutes several times a day.
Finally we need to take a second look at what our cultural values are. Do we really want our kids to be so narcissistic that they expect to get everything they want when they first ask for it? The word "NO" is very powerful, so is the word "Later".
poor quality food/nutrition and the every shrinking physical activity/education programs surely can not help the problem of obesity and lack of healthy lifestyle awareness. Report
I think it involves not just schools, but everyone. That's what I liked about Food Revolution. He didn't just aim at the schools. He went from school, to parents to the community. He didn't just stop at the schools. It's not just a simple problem of school lunches.

If you look at the program, even the schools still had to compromise to get kids to eat lunch. They tried to get rid of all milk, except white. it didn't work. They kept the meals healthy but had to keep the milks. But more kids ate the food. So there is still junk there, but it's limited. Or they encouraged kids to eat what was on thier plate (they did not allow a full plate to go in the trash).

In these times, it's hard to put a full hot healthy meal on the table at dinnertime, but it is doable. What a lot of people (not just parents) want to do is take the time to do it. Make double batches, invest in a slow cooker, something. Have the kids involved in making what you are making. Reduce (not eliminate) the junk at home and encourage the schools to keep meals healthy.

And yes, I've even had my own share of a picky eaters. You know what? I compromise. They can still have some junk, but they still has to eat something healthier before it. Usually the healthier part will fill him up first. Yes, I've had to put my foot down. It's not easy, but I've done it. I've tried not spicing it up as much as I would like, but if it makes the picky eater eat it, then I'm willing to spice it up on my own plate.

Changes take time. People need time to change. If we want to get rid of the weight, we have to be willing to make changes. And that's never easy to do. Even Jamie Olivier had a lot of trouble. Report
It's an interesting debate, but in the end children learn most of their eating at home and forcing parents to conform to what the government deems is right will not work either. Teaching nutrition to children at school every few years, especially during the teen years will help them learn, but ultimately healthy living and healthy eating are personal choices. Chastising children for their choices does not work either. Report
Parents are the source of the problem. Having taught school for 30 years, I know how parents react to the school trying to help. I taught health as part of our curriculum in elementary school and included in the health course was nutrition. But if a teacher said one word to a student who was throwing away his whole tray of food, the parents would let the teacher know her/his child could do as he pleased and it was none of the teacher's business. Then why teach nutrition???
How many times I saw children throw away a beautiful big apple he brought in his lunch!!! Yet I could say nothing.
I like what Ben Franklin (I think) said, "Waste not, want not". Report
"More children started packing their lunches, so the schools implemented further controls by determining what foods the children were allowed to bring to school."

Are you kidding me? The SCHOOLS determined what the PARENTS were ALLOWED to send with their kids to eat????? The SCHOOLS should stick to teaching the kids to read and write, etc. They are doing a darn crappy job at that.

Hey I know. Why don't we just take all of the kids from the parents and stick them in government group homes so they can be raised "right". No parents to interfere with their indoctrination......

What has happened to people? Are you are sheeple? How dare they! Educating children about actual FACTS on nutrition is laudable. Serving nutritious food in school lunches should be a no brainer. But putting the school's wishes over the parents' is reprehensible. Report
www.betterschoolfoods.org IT DOES MATTER.~ FEED THE BODY NOT THE STOMACH!!!! All schools should have a garden & teach children & Parents. I was not obese when I ate from the garden. I am using my wt to try & teach my children the healty habits I use to have. I know of a child whose parents have never had wt problem & she is headed down the obese road... eats crap fried foods ALL THE TIME. When @ my friend's house.. she gets peanutbutter & crackers... a healthy compromise b/c the kid WILL NOT EAT VEGGIES........ parents are divorced & isn't being taught to eat healty..... I explain to my children why I choose to go to the grocery store to buy picnic foods rather than run thru a drive thru. I swell w/pride when we eat out & my kids (7&9yo) ask for water w/their meal. Report
School food should be nutritious no matter what. Our schools are there to TEACH our children. Teaching does not stop with the 3 R's. And - many students are taught nutrition in science and health classes and taught proper nutrition and then they walk to the lunch room and are served junk food?!? That being said, if a child wants junk food, he will find a way to have it but it should not be during school hours and should never be served to him/her in school. Also, I think schools also have far too many options in the lunchroom. If the schools serve a balanced healthy meal, the kids will they will eat it. Too many choices makes for picky kids. If their dietary needs differ too greatly from the school then parents should be making the lunches. There should NOT be sodas or any other such drinks either. Water, low fat milk and perhaps juice. Period! Flavored milks and sweetend drinks should be left for home.
School lunches are not a be all - end all of childhood nutrition by any means, but it is one place that they spend the majority of their youth at and they should be served good healthful foods. That should happen at home also, but sadly it does not, so if they are able to consume something healthful each day, maybe it may help reverse this obeseity epidemic. 40 years ago there wasn't such a crisis - our kids were not eating the most coveted of foods in schools but it was healthier. I remember being served meat, vegies, starch, fruit, dessert and milk. yes, white bread and butter too, but largely, but the meals were better balanced balanced. Did we eat it all? Not on your life, but we either ate it or went hungry. We didn't have umpteen choices to make until we found something to suit our tastes. AND we ate, we went outside for recess. In fact, we went out 3 times a day and were encouraged to run, swing, play ball, climb jungle gyms, jump rope, play hop scotch, teeter totter, monkey bars, etc. Now, many schools have banned gym equipment for fear of someone getting hurt (give me a break) and many have stopped outside playing altogether, then - we wonder why we have fat kids! Report
I really don't think changing one meal per day is going to help childhood obesity. If they only eat skinless chicken breasts with carrots and broccoli for lunch, and then go home and eat all of the junkfood while playing video games until it's time for bed, they're not going to learn anything or lose weight. I ate the same school lunches my step-son eats, and I was NEVER overweight. (I gained w/ my pregancy) The difference is that when I got home, I did my homework, ate a cookie or something in that same catagory, and then went out to play until dark. He goes home, and his mother lets him eat cake, cookies, etc., and then either sits in front of the TV, sits in front of the video games, or in front of the computer playing games. Unless the parents get involved and help with their diets and activity levels at home, the schools don't stand a chance. Report
Two thumbs up to Jamie Oliver. (I watched his video)
I think schools are a big part of the problem.
Not only lunches but also the lack of nutrition education.
And ...
Parents saying yes to fast foods. Lack of physical activity.
A multi-faceted problem.
I applaud Jamie Oliver and his efforts in raising nutritional awareness. Part of his revolution is creating event and doing outreach to get buy-in from the (often-resistent) community. From what I've seen, he does this by 1) making people aware of how dangerous the obesity epidemic is, on personal levels and 2) teaching people that cooking healthfully can be easy, fun, inexpensive, and taste great. I think it's awesome. Report
The right solution is to educate the parents! Report
It's not the total solution, but it seems like a step in the right direction to me!

Get the French fries out of the school! Kids may still eat them from time to time, but give them an environment where they are surrounded by healthy choices, and it has got to have a positive effect. Report
We now have a very right wing government in the UK, and they are working closely with big businesses of all kinds (another example: Murdoch's press supported their election campaign, they will now repay him by getting rid of the BBC) Obesity is a disease of poor people in rich countries, and our government would like to keep it that way. Except that our National Health Service, from which we all benefit, and for which we all pay, is picking up the bill for this.

This is just one reason why I don't think British people will stand for selling junk food near schools. 40 years ago, the idea of restricting the places people could smoke was scorned - it restricted our "freedom" apparently. I suspect that in 40 years time, junk food will be scorned too. Report
es improving what is on offer will make children healthier because if they do not have the option of the unhealthy choices they cannot make them. However and it's a biggy... the entire poulation needs to be educated in healthier options and bring our expectations back to reality rather than the sick celebrity culture that pervades all our lives at the moment. Size zero is not a good goal. You do not have to be 16 and stick thin to be beautiful, sexy, a good person. Let's all start to shun the celebrity myth, if you don't buy into it the peddlers will stop producing because they need a market.

Each and everyone of us has something that makes us unique and wonderful. It may be hard to identify initially but IT IS THERE beleive me. Report
Look people, parents don't give a crap what their kids eat at school. Is that not horribly obvious? 95% of parents expect a school to know and do what is right for their kids, and if parents are not going to be proactive then something needs to be done. If you don't like government in your child's education life, take your kids out of school. Don't bitch about something that you utilize, doing so is called hypocrisy.

As for the "kids spend more time at home" thing. Kids have up to half their weekly meals at school. Breakfast and lunch 5 days a week is 10 out of 21 meals. Schools now are also cutting back on physical education classes. Crap food + lack of exercise = obesity. The math is pretty simple.

The food and lack of PE and music courses in elementary schools locally is a large part of why I will be homeschooling my two daughters. Because at least at home I know they're not being fed HFCS laden GM food. I could only hope that Jamie Oliver would come to my area and make part of the problem right. Report
My husband, a salesman, sells cleaning products, etc. to schools in our area. He was recently talking to a cafeteria manager, responsible for submitting the meal plans to the state BOE. She told him that our state has just changed some requirements. They have LOWERED the calories coming from fat to 50%. Here on SP, I learned that we should get 30% of our calories from fat. If they lowered it to 50%, I wonder: HOW HIGH WAS IT BEFORE?

I think the parents bear the first line of responsibility. However, even if the parents do a great job in this, and the schools still are overloading with fat and carbs, the parents may not be getting very far. Then the only recourse would be sending lunches from. Report
I do belive it's a step in the right direction, however children spend more time in their home environment so that is where lasting habits come from. I also believe in bringing back enjoyable recreation and liesure pursuits to increase activity and an active lifestyle. Report
The kids crave junk food because they've always eaten junk food because the schools have always served junk food. Report
In my summer welcome letter to my incoming fourth grade class I stress my "healthy snacks only" rule. I include a wonderful list of inexpensive, easy to prepare, balanced snacks. We don't eat lunch until 1:05 PM so a healthy snack is a must to keep the brains working! I've had irate parents due to my rule (Nobody will tell them what their child can/cannot eat.) and actually had a few parents request that their child be placed in a different classroom. As a certified personal fitness trainer and lifestyle and weight managment consultant, I include such lessons in my class as label reading (math, language arts) and digestion/fuel intake and energy output (science). I also have motor breaks built into the school day. BUT the only way for change to happen is if it starts in the home with the parents. We have a long way to go, America. Report
No plan is perfect but like Gebjack, I think Oliver's plan would impact what children eat in high poverty, urban schools. When you're poor, you lean towards cheaper foods that means not buying fresh produce and buying the cheapest processed food you can. How fat do our children have to become before we stop bucking about not wanting someone else telling us what to feed our kids? I'd like to shake a few parents and ask them why they are putting their children at risk for diabetes and other weight related illness before they are old enough to decide for themselves how to manage their health. Report
Hopefully it made a lot of parents sit up and take notice. This mentality adults have now that they don't fix meals at home but eat out every day and mostly at drive throughs is just plain stupid.

If having meals at home and even semi healthy ones is too much of a bother or trouble, then they need to drop some of the after school and work activities and try being a real family for a change instead of the home just being a place to stop and sleep for the night. No home, no family values. No family values, a huge percentage of obese kids and adults.

You can be on a fixed income and still make some healthy meals at home and train you kids to pick the healthy options. Eating out costs a whole lot more, money and family closeness time, than shopping and fixing it at home. Report
I think that Jamie Oliver's show opened a lot of people's eyes on what is going on in the schools. I think/hope that this year schools will look at lunches differently when planning. Report
i honestly don't know but it's GOT to be a step in the right direction... Report
Just to address a few prior comments by some of our esteemed members. This is not and nor should it be a political issue. I believe it a health issue of paramount importance because our kids are our wealth. I applaud ANY government that cares enough about their citizens to protect their diet and feeding. I applaud those concerned private citizens who have lobbied and pushed to have their tax dollars benefit something other than the sugar and meat lobbies. It's a sign of maturity when a country stops closing its eyes to rising obesity and health costs. How anyone could deny that is beyond the realm of commonsense. However, I believe the government can only do so much. At the end of the day, our kids' greatest role models are ourselves. If we don't teach them aright, they will go astray. People hate being legislated and inevitably will do whatever they prefer doing. Laws and regulations are NEVER popular. Besides, healthy foods are still not cost effective, at home or in school lunches. At least, this will indicate that this government cares and hopefully a younger generation might be saved from this junk food mentality. Report
It isn't just nutrition that suffers at the hands of irresponsible and/or ignorant parents. You could say the same about pretty much any other subject having to do with schools. Unfortunately, the USA is very bad about funding community and family programs that would help parents and students alike. The health care reform act was a step in the right direction too, but just like Jamie Oliver's school menu plan, nothing will be solved without the aide and agreement of parents and community members. The key is to help them to understand WHY they should care about the quality of their kids' lunches (and breakfasts, dinners, snacks, etc.). Until this nation provides the proper programs to help educate parents and their children, parents will keep giving kids money to spend at McDonald's after school. Report
It starts at home and unfortunately not all parents have the time and/or money to support healthy eating ALL the time. Maybe restricting the number of hours spent in front a computer and requiring children to play outside or exercise in some way is a better idea! Back in the 50s kids weren't obese because one parent stayed home and fixed meals and made sure the kids were active- not too hard to do since technology wasn't what it is today. Sadly, in this go...go...go world the first thing to actually go is our health!!! Kudos to all those who do what they can in an effort to make healthy choices! Report
"More children started packing their lunches, so the schools implemented further controls by determining what foods the children were allowed to bring to school."

Now THAT is frightening government control and interference into our private lives. I can understand restricting certain highly allergic foods, but this goes way beyond that. And, yes, I know the schools implemented these rules, but it is still government control.

When I went to elementary school in the 60's, school lunches were hamburgers, spaghetti, meatloaf, and I'm sure many other healthy and not as healthy items. GUESS WHAT? We weren't fat. Serving and eating chicken nuggets are good things but it is up to the parents to make the right decisions and teach children healthy habits. I'm ALL for making school lunches healthier, but I"m totally against the militant approach. Report
No way. The answer is to inform the parent(s) to provide by example, and teach their own children how to eat healthy for the majority of their meals when they are NOT in school. The 1-2 meals x the 180 days they are in school for 12 years is nothing compared to the lifetime of meal planning they need to learn to eat nutritionally. I don't need a president who smokes & eats lord-knows-what telling me what to eat. On the other hand I don't mind an enforced program for people who are accepting government run WIC & food stamp programs on healthy choices. Report
It is a good start. Nutrition should be part of health class, with discussion of the meal served at school. Oops, maybe the teacher would be in trouble for discussion about that unhealthy meal in the cafeteria. Let's hope it is a healthy meal they can use as an example of how to eat. Students need good examples, if they don't see any at home/ Report
I'm not sure what saddens me most about school "nutrition". Have you seen the labels? The sodium is through the roof. I saw one meal this year that had 85% of your day's cholesterol. "Nutrition" Services sends home fliers about healthy eating, encouraging kids to have a colorful plate, and yet they serve orange congealed mac & cheese, brownish orange fried shrimp poppers and syrupy, sugary canned peaches. Or brown beef cutlets with brown gravy, mashed potatoes and a wheat tea roll (at least it's whole wheat)...I see no colorful fruits or vegetables.

Then there's the fact that many of our kids eat free school breakfasts as well. Huge glazed donuts or cinnamon rolls. Only sugary cereals are offered. The not-so-healthy carbs in these processed breakfasts are through the roof, then these kids turn around and eat the same processed garbage for lunch.

When I think of how many of the students I teach are on free or reduced lunch, and I know that these are often the only meals they get, it makes me sad that my tax dollars are helping subsidize GARBAGE, as well as the obesity that I see growing every year. Report
I certainly hope so--I've filled out petitions right and left to change things in schools. at the elementary level, i'm sure this would work pretty well, though there're so many times that parents bring mcD's and other fast food and leave them for their kids or eat with them. better food might curb that, and it could easily be cheaper than the crap they're getting now. some districts have pretty good food, some you wonder what lab they grew it out of.

high school's tougher, but in most districts there's a rule that you can't leave school property to get yourself lunch and come back, a truancy-prevention measure i guess. but at the elementary level this'd be a great start for sure--get them thinking about healthy food early enough for it to stick and they make smarter choices when they get older. whether they will or not is the tough question. Report
I applaud Oliver's efforts. Alot of people have all the answers but never take any action. He is trying to make a difference in other peoples lives. Report
I wish it would -- but I feel it's got to happen at home with the parents/caregivers. No matter what happens at school -- it's got to be supported and continued in other areas that the kids eat.

ditto regarding the comment about Huntington. I live about 50 minutes from Huntington WV. Report
i'm 52 and when i was in school we had healthy lunches that were made with fresh fruits and vegetables. everything was made from scratch even the whole wheat rolls and believe it or not they even made the hamburger and hot dog buns. my best friends mom was the one who made them. there weren't soda or junk food machines or food and salad bars. there were no choices except if you wanted soup or chili and you got a choice of dessert. the only drink availble was milk. you weren't allowed junk food or drinks from home either.
it amazed me the junk those schools were serving on jamie's show. i hope it starts a change back to real foods being served. Report
I don't agree that a subset of people choosing not to take a healthy option means that it's not worth providing a healthy option for anybody.

I also don't agree that this was a "start." Is anyone here actually under the impression that attempting to educate adults about nutrition is something _new_? Does someone actually believe that we've never tried that before? Report
They have been trying to make healthier school lunches for years. If cost or the government (remember Ketchup is a veggie) under-mind it the parents who don't care or feel manipulated do. Report
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