February 2, 2009
Study: School lunches better, need work
A study of the U.S. National School Lunch Program found better nutritional quality, but there is still room for improvement, researchers said.
Schools need to do even more to reduce the availability of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and make school meals more nutritious, the Third School Nutrition Dietary Assessment said. The assessment is scheduled to be published in the special Supplement to the February issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
The National School Lunch Program, created in 1946, operates in nearly all public and many private schools in the United States, providing subsidized meals to more than 30 million children each school day. More than 10 million children take advantage of the School Breakfast Program, which became a permanent federal program in 1975.
Schools need to do even more to reduce the availability of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and make school meals more nutritious, Supplement Guest Editor Mary Story of the University of Minnesota said in a statement.
Although the majority of U.S. schools offer breakfasts and lunches that meet the standards for key nutrients -- such as protein, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron -- reimbursable school meals remain too high in saturated fat and sodium, and children are not consuming enough fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Many public schools are constrained in providing better meals because of limited funds, Story said.