In the next month, children across East Tennessee will be packing their backpacks and heading to the bus stops. Throughout the summer, Mom and Dad was there to remind these youngsters to “eat those vegetables.” What about the school lunch room, are they going to eat healthy there?
Fewer secondary schools in the United States are selling less nutritious foods and beverages, such as candy and soda, according to a survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The greatest improvements were seen in states that have adopted strong school nutrition standards and policies for foods and beverages sold outside school meal programs.
The report, “Availability of Less Nutritious Snack Foods and Beverages in Secondary Schools – Selected States, 2002-2008,” was published today in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The report shows that among the 34 states that collected data in 2006 and 2008, the median percentage of secondary schools that did not sell soda or fruit drinks that are not 100 percent juice increased from 38 percent to 63 percent. The median percentage of secondary schools in these states that did not sell candy or salty snacks not low in fat increased from 46 percent in 2006 to 64 percent in 2008.
“The school environment is a key setting for influencing children’s food choices and eating habits,” said Howell Wechsler, Ed.D, M.P.H., director of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health. “By ensuring that only healthy food options are available, schools can model healthy eating behaviors, help improve students’ diets, and help young people establish lifelong healthy eating habits.”
Mississippi and Tennessee made the greatest progress in improving the nutrition environment in their schools. In Mississippi, the percentage of secondary schools that did not sell soda or fruit drinks that are not 100 percent juice increased from 22 percent in 2006 to 75 percent in 2008, while in Tennessee the percentage increased from 27 percent to 74 percent. These two states are national leaders in implementing strong statewide school nutrition standards.
“Efforts to improve the school nutrition environment are working, and Mississippi and Tennessee are excellent examples of this progress. However, there are still far too many schools selling less nutritious foods and beverages,” said Wechsler.
In Connecticut, The Farm-to-School Program is a statewide program designed to use Connecticut Grown fresh fruits and vegetables in your schools’ cafeteria meals and snacks. This project is twofold: to support local farms and to offer fresher, more nutritious produce in the school meals. Getting locally grown products into school cafeterias is a win-win situation for you and your school kids! It will meet newest guidelines to improve children’s health and nutrition while also increasing marketing opportunities and income for our Connecticut farmers. This would be a good program to adopt into East Tennessee schools.
Some information for this article was obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and http://www.ct.gov/
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