Tag Archives: school nutrition

Happy National School Lunch Week!

Established by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, National School Lunch Week (NSLW) is a week-long celebration of the school lunch program. Every October, schools across the country participate in National School Lunch Week celebrations, reminding students, parents and communities that a healthy school lunch helps students learn, grow and achieve. Teachers and students celebrate in their cafeterias every year with decorations, costumes (dressing up like fruits and veggies!), special menus (international flavors) and events (chili cook-offs, bake sales and more).

But it’s become far more than a celebration and has evolved into community awareness and education.  From students making healthier choices to improved academic performance, nutrition education can benefit the whole school and family communities. For example, students bring home food samples and printed menus to share with family members, providing additional visibility and transparency into their school lunches and also encourages parents to make equally healthy meals at home.

That’s why the NSLW is so important. This year’s theme, “Show Your Spirit,” is about getting excited about the benefits of consuming wholesome, healthy school lunches—fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and dairy products such as milk and yogurt.

Here’s what just a few of our nation’s schools are doing this week:

Knoxville, Iowa:

Schools in Knoxville, Iowa serve a wide variety of fruits & veggies, available at Salad and  Garden Bars, & fresh fruit carts open at every school during lunch. In addition, a grab & go lunch option named the Panther Power Pack is available daily for students to purchase at Knoxville High School. Nearly all of the baked goods served are made from scratch & baked fresh daily!

San Angelo, TX:

Schools in San Antonio, Texas recognize National School Lunch Week with the theme  “Vote for a Winning Lunch.” Student-made posters and weekly menus adorn the cafeteria to promote voting and healthy nutrition throughout the week.Parents, students and school officials all cast  ballots for their favorite school lunch and show that healthier choices are critical to feeling good and succeeding in school

Marietta, GA:

Cafeterias in Marietta City Schools will roll out new menus featuring Greek, Jamaican and Thai-inspired cuisine. With hopes that the healthy-eating habits continue at home, Harrison said the district uses name-brand food products so students can recognize the healthy food in the grocery store.

Want to learn more about how 1WorldSync helps with school lunches, nutrition and transparency?  Read “Back to School Blues: The Chore of the Daily Lunch” and “This Year’s Back to School Checklist Includes Transparency & Traceability.”

Back to School Blues: The Chore of the Daily Lunch

The sunscreen bottles are nearly empty.  The luggage is stored in the garage (and if you’re lucky, the in-laws safely on their way back home).  We’ve binged watched every show in our queue and eaten the last of the season’s crop of good peaches.  Summer is this close to being in the rear view mirror.

Yes, and right around this time of year, as we vacuum out the beach sand, crushed potato chips and summer-old food wrappers from the inside of our cars, we are officially in ‘back to school’ mode.  For some it’s cause for cheering, (the kids go back to school after all), for others it’s a reminder of the long list of upcoming to-dos and calendar commitments (think soccer practice, school plays and scout meetings).  And aside from the obvious back to school prep work of clothes, books and school supplies, there’s the added chore of the daily lunch routine.

Are you going to stock up on lunch box supplies or will your kids buy lunch? Chances are that you’ll be one of approximate 60% of parents who opt for their school’s lunch program.  After all, parents are busy, kids are picky.  But fortunately, school lunches have become tastier and healthier.  In fact, a good deal healthier.    Most school districts now offer healthier food and beverages in vending machines, school stores, and a la carte cafeteria lines. Fruits, vegetables, water, and hundreds of nutritious snack products now fill these venues instead of the candy, sodas, and other unhealthy items that were commonplace less than a decade ago, mostly because of consumer demand and updated regulations.

Of course, that same demand is driving a level of clarity and transparency into what their kids are eating.  They ask questions and read labels.  So what exactly are parents looking for?

  1. Hidden Trans Fats

Over the next couple of years, food companies must phase out partially hydrogenated oils – a major source of artery-clogging trans fats – under a recent directive from the Food and Drug Administration. Until then, consumers are checking food labels for the word “hydrogenated.” If an ingredient list includes this kind of oil, but the trans fat amount reads zero, watch out.

  1. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Over 64 countries now require GMO labeling. Though studies have not determined that GMOs are harmful to eat, many consumers are concerned: limited research into their safety, a rise in “superweeds” that resist the herbicides used on GMOs, and, consequently, more overall pesticide use.  So consumers are voraciously reading labels and looking for ‘USDA-certified organic’ or the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal on the label.

  1. Wood pulp

That is not a typo.  Wood pulp is often lumped under the heading of ‘added fiber.’   So again, consumers are combing food labels for “cellulose” and “cellulose powder”.

  1. Allergens

Studies show that 16%–18% of children with food allergies have had a reaction from accidentally eating food allergens while at school. More than 170 foods are known to cause IgE mediated food allergies. In the US alone, eight of these foods or food groups account for 90% of serious allergic reactions: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts.  Fortunately, federal law requires food labels to clearly identify the food allergen source of all foods and ingredients.

School organizations such as North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) are beginning to leverage the increased amount of available product information as well as detailed nutrition labels to mitigate the risk of allergic reactions among students. By utilizing the 1WorldSync Digital Catalog of product information, updated straight from the source, NCDPI is able to comply with USDA federal regulation for meal pattern requirements and easily distribute it this information to parents, students, and even healthcare professionals upon request.

Whether or not students choose to pack or bring their lunch this year, one thing is for certain: their decision will depend on the amount of available product information. It is clear that consumer demand for transparency far exceeds just the Consumer Packaged Goods and Grocery industries, but also extends to any organization that distributes and sells their products to schools.

Click here to learn more about how 1WorldSync solutions can help the Foodservice industry provide product information transparency.