Lunches served in schools across America may soon get a nutrition makeover. On March 17, 2010, the Healthy School Meals Act of 2010, H.R. 4870, sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis [D,CO-2] was referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor. This bill, which has 49 cosponsors, proposes “to provide plant-based commodities under the school lunch program under the Richard B. Russell National School Act and the school breakfast program under the Child Nutrition Act of 1966, and for other purposes.” Under the bill, schools will be rewarded with food aid and financial incentives if they increase their offerings of plant-based meal options and nondairy milk choices for their students.
According to a 2007 Department of Agriculture School Nutrition Dietary study, more than 70% of schools provide meals that exceed the recommended intake of saturated fat, which increases the risk for chronic health conditions such as obesity and cardiovascular disease. Fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as other plant-based foods (soy), tend to be lower in saturated fat and calories and provide more fiber – characteristics which are associated with a lower risk for developing chronic diseases. Statistics which indicate that 1 in 3 children is overweight and that more than 30 million children eat at least one meal at school per day, highlight the need for improvement in the nutritional content of meals offered through the school system. If approved, The Healthy School Meals Act, H.R. 4870 would make it easier for schools to provide healthy, nutrient-dense meals to their students. And, as a result, help to combat childhood obesity and its associated diseases.
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