Friday, February 10, 2012

School Meals Are Getting a Makeover!

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), on January 26, 2012, the final rule on changing the nutrition standards for the national school lunch and breakfast programs was approved. 
"Through the Health, Hunger-Free Kids Act championed by the First Lady and signed by President Obama, USDA is making the first major changes in school meals in 15 years, which will help us raise a healthier generation of children."  (FDA, 2012)
Yeah!  It is about time!  And, on top of everything, the implementation is gradual for the breakfast program, whereas the school lunch program is expected to start next school year (SY 2012-2013) for most of the new requirements!   I'm Jamie Oliver is excited for the changes, but would it be enough for him?

In my opinion, that is only step one.  Next up, we need to work on physical fitness and health education in the schools.  I'm not sure about other states, but in Texas, health education is no longer required (as of 2009) and schools/school districts have the option of axing it for other requirements.  This is concerning because health class covers basic nutrition, alcohol awareness, and sexual education.  Even in school districts didn't want to have the discussion of some of these issues, at least have class on nutrition; it's greatly needed in this society!  That same year, one semester of physical education was "removed from the state's recommended high school program" (Huffington Post, 2011).  Apparently these modifications are to allow students to take courses that interest them, but sometimes we have to do things we don't like to, that's what growing up is about.  None-the-less, when I was in high school in Massachusetts, we had a lot of flexibility in what we wanted to do in physical education; we always had 2-3 options:  basketball or volleyball; football, golf, or ultimate frisbee; racquetball or weight training; soccer or lacrosse; etc.  What they could have done better was require us to take different sports in physical education so we could find something that we liked and stuck with throughout the years of growing up and going to college.  Our children deserve to have the best lives possible and that is not sitting in a chair or on a couch all day; it's about being outside and having fun without worrying about being made fun of.  So I say, this is one great step forward, the change in nutrition standards for school breakfast and lunch programs!  I just wish some of the items were to be implemented sooner than 2017 or 2022... (USDA Timeline)

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