Health Science

Study Finds That US Schools Have The Most Nutritious Food Amongst Places We Buy From

Photo: Africa Studio // Shutterstock

We get our food from a whole lot of different places, whether it be grocery stores, ordering from restaurants, or at work.

Turns out that where we get our food from has some correlation to the nutritional quality of those meals, and the ones with the highest quality actually come from schools.

A recently published study from Tufts University that looked at nutrition data patterns found that from 2003-2018, school meal quality rose to the point that they were our most nutritious food source (2018 is the most recent year that national data for this is available).

Just under a fourth (24%) of the meals consumed at schools were of poor nutritional quality by 2018. In order from lowest to highest percentage of badly balanced meals, the next best food sources were grocery stores (45%), entertainment venues/food trucks (52%), and restaurants (80%).

It should be noted that the above numbers were in terms of meals served to kids. For adults, meals consumed at schools were not evaluated, but the most nutritious food source was grocery stores (33%), followed by food trucks/entertainment (45%), work sites (51%), and restaurants (65%).

A press release from Tufts University attributed the high quality of school meals to the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which created new standards for school and early child care nutrition. The policy contributed to a 33% drop in proportion of poor quality meals served at schools over the last 13 years.

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act also resulted in highly equitable changes across the board, with the nutritional improvements coming from school meals being on par across ethnicity, education, and household income.

In contrast, other food sources had “significant disparities” when it came to improvements in quality across these different demographics.

While it’s great that we know where the most nutritious food can come from, it should be noted that just nine percent of all calories consumed by children in that time period came from schools. With the COVID-19 pandemic raging on, it’s likely that number has even been lower in more recent years.

The study overall found that across the United States, all major food sources could improve on the nutritional quality of their meals, and special attention needs to be given to the equity of how the food is bettered.

Food Policy Health Plant-Based Sustainability

Plant-Based Chicken Nuggets Are Coming To School Cafeterias Nationwide

When kids across the United States walk into their school cafeterias to start the 2019-2020 school year, many may find plant-based chicken nuggets as a brand new meal option.

Photo courtesy of Don Lee Farms

Don Lee Farms, one of the top three suppliers of protein for school lunch programs, is adding the vegan chicken substitute to its offerings. They serve most major and many small school districts in the United States, with the total they supply numbering in the thousands. Their decision to start incorporating plant-based nuggets came as both an option for sustainability and cost. “In most cases, our price for these items are at or below what chicken nuggets cost schools today,” president Donald Goodman said in a statement.

These nuggets are apparently comparable in taste and texture to real chicken nuggets, and give schools a plant-based option kids already love that is more environmentally friendly and even cheaper than meat. Given how important it is for vegan replicas to become cheaper than the real thing, the fact that a processed meat like chicken nuggets has a cheaper plant-based substitute now is monumental.

Schools will be able to purchase the plant-based nuggets to add to their cafeteria menus starting this summer.

Grocery Packaged Food What's New

Brunchables Are The Nostalgic, On-The-Go Breakfast Of Your Childhood

School lunches used to be like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, especially when it came to Lunchables. You never knew exactly what candies and treats were gonna be inside for you to munch on or trade for different eats. It was the meal of our childhood, and there’s now a breakfast version of it for us to reminisce on.

These new Brunchables are build-your-own breakfast sandwich kits that are easy for grab-and-go breakfasts, whether you are heading to school or work. There’s three varieties, ham, sausage, or bacon and cheese, and each comes with a blueberry muffin as a sweet treat.

There’s enough of the stacked slice cheese and meat to make two tiny sandwiches, but you can also load it all up on one to save some carbs if you want. Each meal contains about 10 grams of protein as well, meaning that you get some nutrition packed into each bite.

Brunchables are now available in select retailers nationwide, with each one priced at $1.99.

Deals Feel Good News

New York City Public Schools To Provide FREE School Lunch All Year

As New York City public schoolchildren start the new year, they won’t have to worry about paying for lunch. That’s because for the first time ever, all 1.1 million NYC public school students will get FREE school lunch.

free school lunch

Photo: USDA on Flickr.

According to the New York Times, the city becomes the largest ever to support a free public school lunch program. Other cities like Boston, Chicago, Detroit, and Dallas already offer such programs in their metropolises.

In New York City, 75% of public schoolchildren already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Those who qualify for the cheaper lunch in the Big Apple already get it for free as well. However, the new initiative will cover an additional 200,000 families and save them around $300 per year.

While this may sound like an expensive venture, it shouldn’t cost NYC any additional money to make this happen. That’s because New York recently changed how it tracks families legible for Medicaid and school lunch. Through this, the entire city has now qualified for a federal program that provides universal free lunch.

For the families, this is definitely a welcome boon that will help them save more money, especially in the long run. For food policy, it’s also a major win, and one that hopefully will continue to expand to cities across the nation. No kid should ever have to go hungry because their families can’t afford to pay for lunch.

Health News

San Francisco Just Banned Chocolate Milk From All Schools

Chocolate milk has been a staple in school lunches for the longest. You might not remember too many of your elementary school lunch items, but chances are you’ll remember the chocolate milk cartons, or in some cases, milk pouches.

In an attempt to curb student calorie intake, San Francisco, California just outright banned chocolate milk from its schools, according to the SF Chronicle.

It’s not #NationalChocolateMilkDay if you haven’t had your daily glass of Nesquik chocolate milk! 🐰

A post shared by Nestle Nesquik USA (@nesquikusa) on

When these young San Franciscans return to school from summer vacation, they will have one less drinking option to choose from, as the flavored milk ban will start in the Fall of 2017, for all elementary and middle schoolers.

High school students will have an extra semester to enjoy their chocolaty drink, as the ban will not take effect for them until the upcoming Spring semester.

Getting rid of the milk cuts the students’ calorie intake by at least 35 calories, and sugar intake by 10 grams.

They tested the ban on five schools last semester, and while the students weren’t big fans of the idea, they eventually just forcefully switched over to plain milk.

Over the years, San Francisco has really cracked down on unhealthy food, doing away with sugary snacks such as cookies, vending machine candy, and of course, sugary sodas.

While a piece of our childhood will be banned, looking down at my 28-year-old gut, I get it.

Health News Products

USDA Secretary Implements Major Changes To National School Lunch Program

If you’re a parent, pay close attention. There’s some big changes coming to the food that your child’s school will be allowed to serve.

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue signed a proclamation that schools won’t have to meet some specific guidelines relating to salt, whole grains, and milk for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year.

Under the announced changes, states can grant exemptions to schools struggling to find a whole range of whole-grain products to sell to students, extends the deadline for schools to lower sodium content in food, allows for the sale of previously banned flavored 1% milk, and allows for more time to prepare foods.

The move aims to keep school lunches somewhat nutritious while increasing their appeal to students. It also allows items like chocolate milk and white bread back onto lunch menus and rolls back standards for whole grains, milk, and sodium set in 2012.

Congress’s appropriations bill, which is scheduled for a vote and likely passage some time this week, includes these exact alterations to USDA policy enforcement by barring federal funds from being used to pay government officials to implement the 2012 regulations, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Opponents of the new changes, including American Heart Association chief executive Nancy Brown, question the need for the rollback of previous guidelines since 99% of schools nationwide already comply with them. The director of the White House’s domestic policy council during the Obama Administration, Cecilia Munoz, also questioned “what the rationale is going to be for adding more salt to foods or moving away from whole grains to more refined grains.”

Many school districts and cafeteria workers disagree, claiming that the rules are expensive, heavily restrictive, and lead to the discarding of lots of whole grains and produce that children refuse to eat, as many are more accustomed to more refined foods.

“This gives us some flexibility to occasionally serve food that looks like what students would have at home, to try to get more students eating school meals,” said Michael Rosenberger, executive director of the Dallas school district’s food and child nutrition program, to the Wall Street Journal. “This is not a step backward.”

How do you feel about these new changes? Will they be better for schools and your kids?

Celebrity Grub Now Trending Recipes Video

Gordon Ramsay Shares His Top Recipes For A ‘Better School Lunch’

We all know how “yummy” and “nutritious” our school lunches can really be in the United States. Considering they’re not poised to get better anytime soon, it’s becoming more important to have a handful of lunch recipes in your arsenal for school.

Enter celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay to get you sorted there. Whether you’re making lunch for your kids to take to school, making a lunch for yourself to eat while in class, or just looking for a fun and new way to enjoy some nostalgic lunch recipes, Chef Ramsay has got the recipes you’re looking for.

Ramsay uploaded a video to his Youtube channel recently which displays four recipes of simple but tasty school lunch items that you can make at home. His choices include:

Baked Beans with Potato Cakes

Fish Fingers with a Chip Butty (basically a French fry sandwich)

Scotch Eggs

Malted Chocolate Doughnuts for dessert.

They’re likely not the healthiest recipes, but they are all definitely much better for you and tastier than the lunch you’ll typically find in a school cafeteria.

I’ve made the Fish Fingers that were featured in the above recipes before, so I can personally vouch for these recipes being simple, effective, and scrumptious. If you’re desiring some new lunch recipes, definitely give these a go.

Celebrity Grub News

Tracy Morgan’s Obsession With School Lunch Can Get A Little Raunchy

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School lunches weren’t always the tastiest options growing up. Highly processed meats with unpleasant-looking lumps of starch or vegetables left them with a lot to be desired. They weren’t something that I enjoyed or wanted to eat more of after getting out of high school.

Actor Tracy Morgan, however, must’ve grown up in a school with great lunches. In an interview with Bon Appetit to promote his now-released movie “Fist Fight,” the actor revealed his true love for school lunch food.

Morgan did admit that there were days that he didn’t enjoy them as much, such as when the school served noodles without cheese. However, he was all about the fish patties, burgers, chocolate milk, and tater tots that we would usually associate with school lunches.

In fact, he’s never actually stopped eating school lunches on a weekly basis, and his love of school lunches appears to have gone to the next level since his school days.

“Listen, I’m a married man. I’m 48 years old. And there’s a day every week where my wife fixes school lunch for dinner. That consists of tater tots, fish fillet with cheese, chocolate milks. When we have school lunch days, me and my wife, we role play. […] She puts on the school lunch lady outfit, the hairnet and everything, and then we role play. I’m the student. I love school lunch so much. Monday, every week, my wife fixes school lunch for dinner. “

Alright then, Tracy Morgan. If you’re obsessed enough with school lunches that your wife will cook them for you once a week and have some fun in the process, then go for it. No judging here.

Apparently, the two of them have been going through this weekly routine for about ten years now, so it’s clear that Tracy Morgan has a deep love for school lunches. Probably near the level that he loves his wife, based on the interview.

It’s a great trade-off for the couple: he gets the food he loves, she gets some love from him.

Hey, food is one of the things that brings people closer together. In this case, it literally does.