According to a new study, public elementary schools have made great strides improving the quality of lunches served in schools. The study was based on data was collected from 4,630 schools over the course of eight consecutive schools years during which revisions to National School Lunch Program (NSLP) standards occurred and significant PSE changes took place at multiple levels. Changes included increased access to nutritious food such as vegetables, fresh fruit, salad bars, whole grains and pizzas that are more healthful. Schools decreased the availability of high-fat milks, fried potatoes and regular pizza.
The study details some regional differences in approaches used by schools and discusses economic and racial/ethnic disparities related to the availability of salad bars and the offering of high-fat milks in schools. The study noted that “…while NSLP participation rates dropped when low-calorie flavored milk was first substituted for regular-fat flavored milks, participation rates recovered.” The study also suggested that changes in offerings and marketing and promotion were important factors in helping children to make healthful choices.
Turner L, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Powell L, Chaloupka FJ. Improvements and Disparities in Types of Foods and Milk Beverages Offered in Elementary School Lunches, 2006–2007 to 2013–2014. Prev Chronic Dis 2016;13:150395.