NYC Schools cut too many calories, say city officials

Efforts to curb obesity end up serving students too few calories.

Sept. 4—While NYC Schools was waging its war on obesity it was replacing fries with baked potato strips and introducing nonfat chocolate milk, whole-grain pasta and salad bars—all moves that cut calories.

Now, however, city officials acknowledge that children often were served fewer calories than required by the federal government. In the case of the 860,000 school lunches that SchoolFood served daily, it ignored a set of USDA requirements written in 1994, without seeking permission. City health and education officials said their aim was not to lower calories, but to increase the nutritional value of students' foods. But as it slowly began re-engineering those foods, there was a “secondary response,” said Cathy Nonas, a senior adviser in the city’s health department. “It dropped the calories and at sometimes below what the U.S.D.A. had as a minimum,” she said.