Whether they’re picking between entrees in the lunch line or choosing a drink from a vending machine, today’s students have more choices for food and beverages than ever before. Unfortunately, not all of these choices are healthy ones — and they’re having a real impact on our children’s health.
In addition to what’s sold in the main cafeteria line, many schools sell a la carte snacks, entrees and beverages. These “extras” tend to be lower in nutritional value and higher in calories, sugar, fat and sodium than foods served in school meal programs.
Since many children consume up to 50 percent of their daily calories at school, ensuring that school food choices are healthy choices is a major priority. And forming strong nutritional habits early will help lead to a lifetime of better eating habits.
In June 2013, the United States Department of Agriculture released updated nutrition standards for all snack foods and beverages sold in schools. The standards will provide schools with the guidance to make every food and drink sold at school a healthy choice.
We also need to make sure that our students who participate in after-school activities have the same healthy choices. The fundraisers and celebrations that occur also need healthy alternatives.
Choice is a good thing. But when it comes to our kids, those choices should be healthy ones.
Patricia Love, member
American Heart Association Advocacy Subcommittee