Americans favor limiting sale of unhealthy school food, says poll

Gallup poll reports 2/3 of American would vote for healthy food measure.

March 14—Two-thirds of Americans say, if given the opportunity, they would vote for a law that limits food sold in public schools to food that meets standards for high nutritional value, according to a new Gallup poll. Three-quarters of parents with children currently enrolled in public school and nearly two-thirds of nonpublic school parents favor this proposal.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently proposed such a policy as part of its mandate to raise school nutritional standards stemming from the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The proposal aims to prevent students from foregoing cafeteria food in favor of "foods of minimal nutritional value" that may be offered in snack bars and elsewhere on school grounds. The public has until early April to comment on the proposed regulations.

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Ideas and Innovation
vote buttons pins

On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chalkboard

We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
raised garden beds

We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chartwells teaching kids

Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

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