Ninety-nine percent of public schools design their meal plans based on the National School Lunch Program and 83 percent of all schools in the U.S. use it.
Considering the nutritional standards guiding this program have not been updated since 1995, the Institute of Medicine decided to create new guidelines that would bring school meals up to date and incorporate new advancements in our understanding of proper nutrition for kids.
In the institute’s report, researchers call for more fruit at breakfast, including whole fruit and less juice, more whole grain-rich foods, and a greater amount and variety of vegetables at school-provided breakfast and lunch.
The report also says that certain things should be removed from the lunch program altogether, such as whole milk and foods containing trans fat. Instead, the report suggests offering only skim or 1% milk to kids and using limited amounts of unsaturated oils in cooking.
Overall, the report emphasizes the need for fresh fruit and vegetables, fewer refined carbohydrates, and less fat, and offers suggestions for how to put these changes into place so that schools can offer both nutritious and delicious options for students.