Categories
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.

Categories
Food Policy Opinion Video

NYU’s Quarantine Meal Debacle Is A Wake-Up Call For Colleges Everywhere

As students have been returning to college to start the new school year, some have had to quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19. At New York University, students that quarantined in the dorms got meals, but their quality was so poor that videos of them went viral all over TikTok.

@benbenfuntime

I can’t make this up ##nyu ##vegan ##quarantine ##fyp

♬ Kouen – Lo-Fi Beats

For the first few days, the NYU quarantine meals program was a mess. Vegans and vegetarians received animal and dairy products, some students had missing meals, others didn’t get them delivered until late in the day… it was chaotic, to say the least.

@cheezitbabey

we literally had to drink our own pee last night ##NYU ##nyumeal ##nyutok ##quarantine ##college ##helpus ##fyp ##survivaltok

♬ original sound – cheezitbabey

After making it onto the news for their low-quality meals, NYU apologized, and pledged to do better. For the most part, they’ve lived up to that, as they’ve added more employees to help prepare and send out meals, and even sent out cases of water and snack boxes to help students get adequate nutrition.

@rico_da_fool

Chicken caesar salad but the chicken caesar salad is silent😌😌😌##nyutiktok ##nyu ##fyp ##expensive ##flex

♬ original sound – drydoodooflakes

It didn’t resolve all of the issues, however, so NYU eventually gave students $30 of delivery credit per day as a way to get dinner for the remainder of the quarantine period. They continued to serve breakfast and lunch throughout that time frame.

Considering that NYU students pay over $38,000 per semester for tuition, housing, and other expenses, the quality of the meals they were getting is shocking. It’s also bringing the value of expensive college fees into question, especially during a pandemic.

If expensive schools are serving low-quality meals, limited access to amenities paid for through tuition costs, and transitioning to online learning, then what are students really paying for? A place to stay to take online classes?

The cost of an online course is about $1,200-$1,300, and monthly, one would spent about $350 in food and $1,000 in rent per person in a 2-bedroom apartment. This means that one could go take 4 online classes at home, in a semester-long timeline, and pay under $10,000 to do so.

It’s understandable that the pandemic has changed how everything operates, including college. Given how much money students are paying schools, however, NYU should serve as a case study of what not to do to ensure student nutrition during a pandemic.

To learn more about the full debacle, check out the entire Foodbeast video on the NYU quarantine meals at the top of this story.