Since the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act took effect in 2012 kids are no longer living on greasy pizza, salty French fries and processed cheese entrees. But the truth is–kids are not liking the newer selections either.
With only twenty minutes to eat lunch, cafeteria meals often end up in the dumpster instead of nourishing our youth.
Congress is considering whether to reauthorize the legislation for 100 percent whole grains and low sodium levels so the school lunches will be more accepted, but these guidelines still don’t address the common problem. If the food doesn’t taste good, then it won’t get eaten.
Reducing sodium without adding back flavor is a recipe for bland. No one likes bland.
This is the reason why 70 percent of school meal programs has taken a significant financial hit since the new mandates went into effect.
In an effort to reverse the trend of students opting to pack a lunch, or simply chuck their school lunch, some districts are installing stir-fry stations and spice bars to spice up the flavor profiles.
Seasoning foods with great tasting pre-mixed seasoning blends is a huge step in making bland foods taste good.
However, the basic problem lies in the fact that most taste preferences are set by age two. Children are simply not going to eat foods they are not accustomed to. And if the healthier versions are part of the lunch program and not served at home, then changing these eating habits becomes a bigger challenge.
However, the growing obesity problem is one that will take the cooperation between parents and schools to educate our youth about healthy food choices.
The Center for Ecoliteracy is an excellent advocate of promoting this kind of ecological education. Their mission is to teach how nature sustains life and how to live accordingly.
The center was founded in 1995 by Fritjof Capra, author; Peter Buckley, business leader and philanthropist, and Zenobia Barlow, a pioneer in creating models of schooling for sustainability. The center is located in Berkeley, California.
One of the major projects this center supports in California includes the California Thursdays strategy for preparing school meals from California grown food. This concept is gaining in reputation and has attracted participants from 5 continents and 40 states.
Linking food with health and the environment is an important step in changing the eating habits of our youth, so they will understand where their food comes from and how it affects their health.