Friday, September 21, 2007
School lunches and America's diet
There's so much wrong with America's diet that it's hard to narrow it down - but one area that especially worries me is school lunch. More than 30 million children get their lunch at school. About half of them qualify for free lunches, and for those children, school food is often the only solid meal they get all day. Recognizing this, many cities have implemented free breakfasts, too, and cities including New York, Boston, Massachusetts, and Louisville, Kentucky, have extended meal programs to the summer, even when classes aren't in session.
Now, I'm heartened to see a movement growing to put healthier food on those cafeteria trays. Just a few examples I ran across in the past few months:
- Some schools in Fairfax County, Virginia, read nutrition labels in class and study nutrition as part of computer class.
- The Miami-Dade County school district in Florida offers health and nutrition classes for parents.
- Seattle, Washington, public schools solicit recipes for menu items from district parents. Each spring the district makes sure the food meets nutritional guideline and reformulates the recipes if they don't. If kids like new foods, they go on the menu in the fall. Some examples: Vietnamese sandwich (turkey ham on Vietnamese roll with carrot-radish slaw and served with tropical fruit salad), Somali spaghetti (spaghetti with carrots and potatoes), Louisiana gumbo (traditional Southern style) and phat prik gai (Thai green beans and chicken).
- We also ran across schools, all over the country where kids grow some of their own food, to drive home the message that food doesn't grown in a plastic wrapping or a freezer package.
So improving school lunches is an issue that's on the table. What's eating you when it comes to food and diet?
Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta's latest Special Investigations Unit program "Fed Up: America's Killer Diet" Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET
ABOUT THE BLOGGet a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
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