Students 'eat more fruits and vegetables' under
new school lunch standards.
By: Honor Whiteman
In 2012, the US Department of Agriculture
updated the guidelines on school lunches,
recommending that schools should offer healthier
meals to students. New research from the Harvard
School of Public Health in Boston, MA, suggests
that these guidelines have increased fruit and
vegetable consumption among low-income students.
The study, recently published in the
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, is the
first to assess how the new recommendations have
impacted the diets of students.
According to the research team, led by Juliana
Cohen of the Department of Nutrition at the
Harvard School of Public Health, approximately
32 million US students eat school meals every
day. They note that for many low-income
students, school lunches account for up to 50%
of their daily energy intake.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) set
out new guidelines for school lunches in the
fall of 2012, with the aim of improving their
These guidelines stated that schools should:
Increase their offering of whole grain-rich
Offer only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties to
Ensure students are offered both fruits and
vegetables every day of the week
Increase focus on reducing the amount of
saturated fat, trans fat and sodium in foods,
and Limit calories based on the age of children
being served to ensure the correct portion size
Significant increase in fruit and vegetable
The investigators analyzed the food waste of
1,030 students from four low-income urban
schools in Massachusetts both before and after
the new USDA guidelines came into effect.
Results of the analysis revealed that after the
new guidelines were introduced, fruit selection
increased by almost 23%, from 52.7% to 75.7%. As
there was no corresponding increase in food
waste, this suggested that students are eating
their fruit rather than throwing it away.
Furthermore, the investigators found there was
an increase in vegetable consumption, from 24.9%
before the new guidelines to 41.1% after.
Commenting on the findings, Dr. Cohen says:
There is a push from some organizations and
lawmakers to weaken the new standards. We hope
the findings, which show that students are
consuming more fruits and vegetables, will
discourage those efforts.
No increase in food waste, but still a concern
The researchers found no increase in food waste
after the new standards were applied, compared
with food waste levels beforehand. This
challenges previous reports stating that the
recommendations would have the opposite impact.
However, the researchers point out that there
were still large amounts of food ending up in
the trash. Both before and after the new
guidelines, approximately 60-75% of vegetables
and 40% of fruits were thrown away after they
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Read the editorial from the New York Times:
More Hunger for the Poorest Americans.
In December 2013, Governor Cuomo launched
the New York State Anti-Hunger Task-Force
as a key resource in our ongoing efforts to
eliminate hunger and improve access to locally
grown and produced fresh food to New Yorkers.
The task force will be chaired by Margarette
Purvis, President and CEO of the Food Bank of
New York City, and will include experts in
hunger and nutrition, anti-hunger advocates,
service providers, representatives of the
agriculture industry, local government and
education officials, representatives of the
non-profit and private sectors, and members of
the Governors Cabinet.
Press Release here...
affordable produce to
'food deserts' in the
by Elizabeth Ponsot
August 17, 2012 on PBS
Need to Know
Healthy Eating advocate
community director for
technical assistance to
Bronx residents who
express interest in
Green Cart, an
relatively few start-up
Gardening, Farming Take Root in New York City
Jane Hodgins, Northern Research Station, U.S. Forest
If your picture of New
York City is skyscrapers
and neon, consider
expanding that image to
include vegetable crops
– a lot of vegetable
crops – growing
everywhere from ground
level to rooftops.
The Big Apple boasts the
gardening program in the
United States, bringing
more local food into the
city’s food system...
Can Urban Agriculture
Feed a hungry World?
that building indoor
farms in the middle of
cities could help solve
the world’s hunger
problem. Here is an
dated August 17, 2012
about Manhattan and