Parents Weigh In on School Nutrition
by Guest Blogger, Heather Metz
I was active in our elementary school in establishing a Wellness committee as well as striving to eat healthy at home. So our PTA president introduced me to a woman named JoAnne Hammermaster. JoAnne was beginning a group called Real Food For Kids (RFFK) and their mission was to improve Fairfax County Public School’s food program. After meeting her and hearing about the group, I was hooked! The group is all volunteers who genuinely care about what all the kids are eating, not just their own. Most of the food served to students is highly processed; the hamburger contained 31 ingredients! You can see the school menu at www.fcps.edu, and check out the video All-Star Lunches. A hamburger with 31 ingredients is definitely not all-star in my book!
Last Fall at our Food Day event, hosted by Chef Ann Cooper, we made a giant hamburger, and a salad all from local greens in a kiddie pool on an elementary school playground! I think it was a great demonstration that you can make Real, healthy food anywhere, so why not in our school cafeterias? (The pictures are on our web site, realfoodforkids.org) My daughter is one of the children behind the giant hamburger. During the last year 1/3 of all county school’s PTA’s approved our resolution to improve school food. As a result of RFFK’s work, the county has changed the hamburger to two ingredients (no more pink slime), planned to hire a contractor to do a study, and is installing a pilot kitchen in one high school. The movement is growing!
This October 23rd at 6pm, the group is presenting a new Food Day event called Feeding Academic Success. We will have a culinary challenge in which teams from area high schools compete to create the ideal salad bar. After we will have a panel discussion with distinguished guests Chef Ann Cooper, Chef Nora Pouillon, Katherine Bishop, Edward Kwitowski, and Dr. Natalie Sikka. We are hoping this event will encourage Fairfax County to continue to improve the school food program. Please join us at this fun and informative event. You can see the invitation and RSVP at realfoodforkids.org.
Heather Metz is originally from a loud, loving, hungry Italian family in New York. After earning her civil engineering degree from Virginia Tech and working in the field for 10 years she is now a wife to Todd her very busy attorney husband and Mom to three girls ages 14, 11 and 8. In healing her middle child from OCD she began her journey to eating the Weston A. Price way and then became a nutritional consultant.
Editors Note: Stan Fishman author of Tender Grassfed Meat just wrote a post on the school lunch plan devised by nutrition expert, Dr. Weston A. Price. Read his post, Best School Lunch Ever Designed by Dr. Price.
By now you may have heard that some students are protesting that the new USDA dietary guidelines are starving them. Alarming changes are being made to school lunches nationwide, reducing vital protein, salt, and disallowing full fat dairy products and offering sugary flavored non-fat milk (all the vitamins are in the fat portion of the milk) as indicated by this blurb on the Fairfax County website:
2012-2013 Menu Changes
When students return to school in September their lunch options will look different. The new, strict federal nutrition standards for school meals are based on the latest nutrition science by the Institute of Medicine and the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These changes will increase the cost of providing meals, but students will not have to pay more.
The ultimate goal of USDA’s “the School Day just got Healthier” is to ensure students make school meal choices that complement the nutrition curriculum taught in the classroom so they are healthy, active, and ready to learn. Parents are critical partners and should review the daily menu with their children. New menu highlights include:
- Meal calories based on grade level of student. (grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12)
- Reduced protein (meat/meat alternate) portions for grades K-5.
- Increased fruits and vegetables.
- NEW requirement that students MUST select one serving of vegetable or fruit with lunch.
- Limited number of servings of whole grain-rich breads and cereals.
- Choice of only fat-free flavored or unflavored milk or 1% low-fat unflavored milk.
- Reduced saturated fat and sodium and zero trans fats.
Parents, please join The Weston A. Price Foundation, using this WAPFtrifoldbrochure, and equip yourself with important nutrition education. And, by all means, send lunches to school with your children to ensure their proper growth and development! Here is a video of a press conference that explains the WAPF concerns about the USDA guidelines, especially for growing children.