Lawrence superintendent Rick Doll eats lunch about once a week at one of the schools. On Tuesday, he had a roast beef sandwich, a smattering of vegetables, fruits and a salad.
Some nutrition recommendations
Among recommendations by the Institute of Medicine:
• Each week, kids should be offered 2 1/2 to 5 servings of fruit for lunch, depending on their grade, and at least 5 servings of fruit for breakfast. No more than half the fruit servings should be juice.
• Kids should be offered 1 1/4 to 2 1/2 servings of vegetables for lunch, and a half-cup of dark green and bright orange veggies and legumes like beans should be offered at lunch.
• Children should be offered 9 to 13 servings of grain for lunch and 7 to 10 servings of grain for breakfast. At least half of those servings should be whole grains such as whole wheat bread, oatmeal and brown rice.
The district follows state and federal requirements when it comes to preparing food for its students, but a new study by the Institute of Medicine says the 14-year-old standards in cafeteria fare need to be updated.
“There’s a real fine line here,” Doll said. “It doesn’t do any good to have food in front of kids if they don’t eat it. You have to have healthy options in front of them so that kids choose to eat and what they choose should be healthy.”
The latest study recommends that youngsters need more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and minimum and maximum levels on calorie intake for breakfast and lunch. Current school lunch requirements don’t meet the government’s own dietary guidelines, which serve as the basis for the Food Pyramid and were updated in 2005.
“Today, overweight children outnumber undernourished children and childhood obesity is often referred to as an epidemic in both the medical and community settings,” Virginia Stallings, who chaired the report committee, said.
But these new recommendations come at a cost. The committee said breakfast prices could go up 20 percent, with lunch costs rising about 4 percent.
And since Lawrence’s food service is self-sufficient, those higher costs in food would mean more lunch money from kids.
“It’s cheaper sometimes to buy processed foods than it is to buy fresh food and prepare it so that kids will eat it,” Doll said. “Schools certainly run into some of that.
But even with healthy foods in front of students, they also need to know why they’re being offered certain meal components.
“We also have to help families educate kids that healthy foods are also good,” Doll said.