The school meal regulations ARE achievable as shown by New Haven Public Schools and the Rudd Center.
Healthy Kids First is the tag line for NHPS and it is as accurate as can be. New Haven pulled out the stops for New Haven Public School students and it shows!
Over the course of two school years, spring of 2012 to spring of 2014the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at UCONN and the Yale University School of Public Health tracked students at 12 New Haven middle schools to see if plate waste of fruits, vegetables and milk had increased. What you will see in the study, plate waste didn't increase but consumption of fruit, vegetables and milk did increase!
Granted, NHPS, was well ahead of the curve. In 2008 anticipating the federal standards would be tightened up grains were replaced with whole grains, and smart menu changes were in the works. Vegetables were blended into marinara sauce, mac and cheese incorporated vegetable purees to not only bump up the nutritional content but to start developing palates. The pizza went to a whole grain crust with a label with less ingredients. Slowly over the course of a few years the menus were completely revamped and the acceptability factor was acheived. Salad bars were added to all schools thanks to partnerships with United Fresh Produce Association, the Whole Kids Foundation, the Chef Ann Foundation and Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools. Chefs Move to Schools was added to the schools in the fall of 2010 and school gardens were now part of the design for all new schools. Teaching and showing students where their food comes from is the step in the right direction. Students who worked in the school gardens became excited about eating vegetables, so much so, that when beets and red onions were removed from salad bars the students protested the decision and the salad bars offerrings were revised to be what vegetables the students wanted, thus increasing acceptability and consumption.
Kudos to the team at New Haven Public Schools for making the right changes at the right time for the wellbeing of the students.
This study shows that children will eat great food in school.
The link to the article referencing the study is here: http://www.nhregister.com//opinion/20150325/forum-healthful-school-meals-are-working.