Do new school lunch guidelines fall short?
Some health experts are questioning the new federal rules being implemented in school cafeterias. While they praise the efforts to increase the number of vegetables and fruits in each lunch, they worry the calorie maximum might be too strict. Depending on grade level, there is a minimum calorie count and a maximum calorie count for each student. "For that high school athlete who's going to go play football four hours, three hours after school, that's not enough food," said Kim Thompson, who is a certified Nutritionist. Thompson recommends that student athletes bring extra food to school or buy extra food in the cafeteria. She suggests something high in protein like nuts and seeds. Another good, easy option according to Thompson, is a peanut butter sandwich. Thompson also said fruit is a good source of energy. She adds that there is also an education opportunity here. "It's great that fruits and veggies are going to be there," said Thompson. "However, just because they're on their plate doesn't mean those kids are going to eat it and it could very well end up in the trash." Like it or not, students aren't going to eat everything on their tray. To avoid trashing good food, some schools have set up what's known as "share tables." "Once it leaves the cafeteria doors, we don't necessarily have anything else to do with it," said Kate Dorr, the assistant school lunch Director. for Oneida County BOCES. "So if a student wants to put it on a table and then other students want to take it so they can have an additional fruit or veggie or milk, they're allowed to do that." Thompson feels that if more students and their parents knew more about fruits and vegetables, then more kids would choose better food. "They might be just unsure of it and therefore avoid the food," said Thompson. "So I think there should be an education piece to help kids try new things."