Eating Better at School: Can New Policies Improve Children's Food Choices?

By Guthrie, Joanne; Newman, Constance | Amber Waves, September 2013 | Go to article overview

Eating Better at School: Can New Policies Improve Children's Food Choices?


Guthrie, Joanne, Newman, Constance, Amber Waves


As students return to school in 2013-14, school cafeterias across America will be entering their second year of serving healthier USDA school lunches based on updated nutrition standards that feature whole grains, low-fat milk, more fruit, and a healthier mix of vegetables. They will begin implementing new breakfast standards that similarly improve the nutritional quality of breakfasts.

Besides USDA meals, most U.S. schools also sell other foods and beverages, often referred to as "competitive foods" because they compete with the USDA meal for student purchases. Competitive foods include à la carte cafeteria items like pizza, french fries, and ice cream, as well as vending items or foods sold at snack bars, school stores, or other locations. By the 2014-15 school year, competitive foods will be subject to new nutritional standards, too.

Together these new standards are aimed at creating a healthier school nutrition environment, but these changes do come with challenges. While school foodservice operations are nonprofit, they are generally expected to balance their budgets, and changes in lunch and breakfast standards may increase food and labor costs. And, to succeed in improving children's diets, meals must not only be healthful but also appealing so that healthy foods are eaten, not wasted. The new standards for competitive foods raise concerns about the lost revenues from potentially smaller sales of competitive foods.

Some Changes Raise Food Costs

Nutrition standards for meals served through USDA's National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) were updated in January 2012 to be consistent with the Federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans. New meals feature more servings of fruits and vegetables; offer a healthy variety of vegetables, including dark green and red/orange vegetables (like tomatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes); contain more whole grains; and limit milk to low-fat milk and fat-free options (see "Highlights of New Standards for School Lunches and Breakfasts"). To address the potentially higher costs of these new standards, USDA provides an additional 6 cents per lunch served to schools meeting the standards. (For school year 2013-14, USDA will pay schools $2.93 per lunch served free and $2.53 per lunch served at a reduced price to low-income students and $0.28 for full-price lunches.)

To better understand the potential effect of new standards on lunch costs, a 2012 ERS study analyzed data from the two most recent nationally representative surveys of school meal programs. The School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Data III (SNDA-III) provides information on the nutritional content of the lunch items offered to students in 2005, and the School Lunch and Breakfast Cost Study II (SLBCS-II) provides data on food costs by food type in the 2005-06 school year. Although new standards were not in place, some schools were already offering meals that incorporated elements of the standards, making it possible to compare food costs of schools serving more of such healthy items as dark green vegetables with food costs of schools not meeting the standards.

Overall, food costs averaged $1.04 per lunch in 2005. The estimated food costs of offering school lunches that met the combined 2011 proposed standards for dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, other non-starchy vegetables (green beans, iceberg lettuce, etc.), lowfat/fat-free milk, and fruit averaged 8.5 cents more per meal in 2005 dollars when other factors that could affect food costs (for example, school location or whether a school offers à la carte items) were taken into account. (Nonfood costs associated with new meal standards, such as labor, were not assessed, although they may also be affected.) The main source of the higher food cost was offering a healthier mix of vegetables, which by itself raised costs 9.4 cents per meal. On the other hand, offering meals in line with the new calorie standard (a maximum and minimum calorie level) lowered food costs by 8. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Eating Better at School: Can New Policies Improve Children's Food Choices?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.