New School Lunch Program to Promote Healthy Food This Fall

Aug 21, 2012 03:27 AM EDT | By Sharon Robinson

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will be enforcing its new guidelines on healthy food in school cafeterias, this fall. The initiative was first suggested by Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Lunch menus will be filled with whole grains, fat-free food and more fruits and vegetables. Moreover, the USDA has also set the amount of sodium allowed in food, banned trans fats, except for naturally occurring ones, from the cafeteria and will be allowing only non-fat flavored milk. School lunches will also include a red, green or an orange vegetable per meal.

Replacing junk food in the cafeteria is the easy first step. Getting children to eat the new healthy food is the real challenge. But, the USDA is ready with a plan for that too.

School cafeteria managers and lunch servers have been advised to serve only healthy food to children. They have also been told to get creative with the way they serve healthy food, and to motivate the children to eat healthy.

According to Associated Press, a study by a Colorado University professor of a school lunchroom revealed that children eat healthier way during lunch breaks after recess, rather than before. Also, creative labeling of food has been of help.

A raffle system has been tried and tested too. In Lassen View Elementary School, an iPad was given away to the one with most number of tickets, which are attached to the bottom of healthy yogurt packs, AP reports.

The USDA also suggests that food coaches be employed in elementary schools to let children know what to eat and how. Popular school athletes will also be encouraged to act as role-models, and ambassadors for healthy eating.

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