Nurturing a more health-conscious culture.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently introduced new proposals for standards on snacking options provided by schools, including limits to junk food and requirements for vending machines and snack bars. This follows the FNS and USDA nutrition standards for school lunches instituted in 2012 requiring schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat milk to help reduce sodium, saturated and trans fat in meals.
The proposal aims to curb the issue of overweight or obese children, but they also reflect new cultural values when it comes to food choices.
A Lighter Culture
Consumers are increasingly demanding lighter, healthier menu items, which has led to a growth in entrée salads in quick service and fast casual restaurants. More than four of every five American adults bought salads away from home at least occasionally in 2011, and nearly half of consumers say they order salads on most restaurant visits, up from 34% two years earlier.
The growing popularity of salads has created a culture of salad innovation with more dressing varieties and the types of vegetables, fruits and nuts that act as toppings. Healthy food options are now more diverse, interesting and attractive to adults and children alike.
Nurturing Healthier Choices
Schools are in a unique position to set a precedent for healthier eating by helping to build those habits in children early to help increase the behavior we’re seeing in some of today’s adults.
Whether a school’s reasons to promote healthier choices are ethical, regulatory, financial or all of the above, schools can and should embrace a culture of healthy eating:
- Create an education program for students by teaching them about healthy eating with taste tests and recipe contests.
- Encourage students to use the salad bar with more fruit and vegetable topping options, and using exciting new dressing flavors such as Apple or Pomegranate Vinaigrette, Poppyseed Dressing and Wilde Raspberry Dressing as a flavor enhancement to their meal