by Katie Ginnane
The Federal Department of Agriculture just announced its plan for implementing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, spearheaded by current first-lady, Michelle Obama. The legislation funds healthy meals for children in public schools, specifically more balanced meals, including more fruits and vegetables and lower calorie meals. Although the legislation was enacted in December 2010, the guidelines for implementation were just recently solidified.
The three main goals of this important legislation is to improve nutrition and focus on reducing childhood obesity, increase access to meals and finally to increase program monitoring and integrity. These goals are incredibly important because one out of every three children in America are considered either overweight or obese, and over seventeen million children live in food insecure homes. The implementation of these standards should take about three years to complete.
Several methods are being employed to assure that school lunches facilitate the above goals. Although the original plan attempted to bar french fries from menu items within school lunch, lawmakers prevented that extra step. The plan does focus on providing a more balanced meal to school children; however, pizza managed to slip in as a vegetable because of the tomato paste. A new meal could consist of whole wheat spaghetti with meat sauce, a whole wheat roll, broccoli, cauliflower, kiwi, low-fat ranch dip, margarine and low-fat milk. This would replace meals of a hot dog on a bun with ketchup, canned pears, raw celery and carrots with ranch dip and low fat chocolate milk.
There are potential cost-reduction benefits as well. The Environmental Working Group states that the new food regulations could help reduce medical bills related to diabetes and other obesity-related chronic diseased.