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Despite Improvements, Healthier Commodities Still Absent in School Meals

September 11, 2008

For school food programs, healthier options are still a hard sell.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Child Nutrition Commodity Program offers 180 items to school food programs, which account for 20% of the food served in school meals. Though the Commodity Program has increased its offering of more nutritious food in recent years, a recent study released by the California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) suggests that state schools are bypassing healthy choices in favor if high-fat, heavily processed options.

The Food Research Action Center (FRAC) has followed similar trends in schools across the nation and is calling for policy changes to improve the quality of school meals. Recommendations include harmonizing school meal standards with national Dietary Guidelines; increasing the amount of fresh produce made available by the government to school lunch programs; and holding food processors to higher standards for processing commodity food items.

“Federal nutrition programs can play an important role in the nutritional quality of children’s diets and in reducing childhood obesity,” said FRAC President James Weill, who further urged “school districts to band together to maximize their buying power for healthier foods.”

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