Change, change, change. The world is an ever-changing place, as they say. This past year has been a very challenging one for all school food service professionals/administrators across the nation. As most know, the USDA enacted new guidelines for school lunches.
Gone are the days of planning a menu with just the five components of a meat/meat alternate, fruit, vegetable, grains and milk with no limitations on fat or calories. There are now strict guidelines for calories, fat content, sodium and what started out as maximum limits on grains and proteins (and eventually was lifted temporarily for one more year) put a strain on making decisions about what food to serve students that they would actually like and eat. Manufacturers have to come up with new products that fit the new regulations. Food is more expensive and more food is going in the garbage. The list goes on and on.
Change is good. Particularly in this day and age when childhood obesity is at an all-time high. Experts are saying that our children today will be the first generation of adults who will not exceed their parent’s life expectancy.
I’m sure everyone is familiar with the term that’s been used many times before “it takes a village to raise a child.” I believe the same is true for childhood obesity – we can do our part as school food professionals but we have to teach our children how to eat healthy and exercise too. I remember as a child, as soon as we got home from school, after homework was done, we went outside and “played.” We rode bikes, played baseball, tag, ran races, etc. Today, our children play video games, use the computer and text, use apps and talk on their phones. It’s a changing society. An average 17 year old will spend over 2 hours and 20 minutes a day with social media, whether it’s on a cell phone, computer, Facebook, etc. What to do? No one person has the answer.
Michelle Obama has started a movement called “Let’s Move!” It’s a start to try and put a stop to obesity in children. It’s a beginning that is taking place right now in all of our schools in America. More fresh fruits and vegetables are being offered. Whole grains and low-fat, low sodium and elimination of sugary drinks and snacks. Duneland Schools have been and continue to be dedicated to the quest to serve tasty, healthy and nutritious meals and to meet the new USDA guidelines.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion.