by Marion Nestle
Jun 10 2014

Dueling infographics on the school lunch wars

Thanks to Tracy Fox for sending the latest salvos in the absurd political fight over nutrition standards for school meals.

The first comes from the School Nutrition Association (scroll down to find the image).  This is the organization increasingly discredited for its close ties to food companies that supply products for school meals, as well as its lobbying of Congress on behalf of those companies .

Screenshot 2014-06-10 13.38.07

 

The second comes from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a major funder of anti-obesity initiatives.

infographic

This particular political fight isn’t over yet.  The School Nutrition Association is on the wrong side of this issue, as shown by the divisions in its ranks—the 19 former presidents who wrote Congress to oppose weakening the standards, for example.

Who loses in this one?  Kids’ health, alas.

Comments

[…] Source: Dueling infographics on the school lunch wars […]

[…] Source: Dueling infographics on the school lunch wars […]

[…] Source: Dueling infographics on the school lunch wars […]

[…] June 2014 | 5:46 pm – Source: foodpolitics.com […]

  • Mell
  • June 11, 2014
  • 6:54 am

Fight,yes but for better nutrition standards for our kids in the schools.The number of obese children is increasing,we have allergies of epidemic proportions and other diseases directly connected with poor nutrition and junky food.

  • Grennan Lentz Sims
  • June 11, 2014
  • 1:54 pm

Nutrition habits typically develop at home with whatever foundation has
been established by the parental unit. If children are not exposed to
and encouraged to eat healthy at home, very rarely does it happen in
other environments. Likewise, if parents provide healthy meals/snacks
and model appropriate choices and behaviors, children are more likely to
make healthy choices away from home, regardless of the setting.

It takes EVERYONE in all environments to come together to solve the
childhood obesity epidemic and prevent chronic disease – home,
restaurants, vending machines, schools, ball parks, entertainment
venues, dr’s offices, the zoo, amusement parks, etc. Schools cannot do
it alone. Also, kids (and adults) need to be physically active
everyday. Unplug from the world and get out there and experience it!
Diet alone will not solve the problem. It’s a balanced equation.
Therefore, it takes a balanced approach in all areas of life, not just
while at school.

School nutrition folks want the same thing Congress does – healthy kids
ready to learn and grow! Do not judge what you do not have all the
facts about. There is more at work behind what the media prints. BOTH
sides have things to improve upon… together. Politics needs to be
removed, FROM BOTH entities, and focus on the goal. Decisions must be
made by everyone based on one fact, “Is it good or what’s best for the
children?”

Before anyone judges what is offered in school meals, I challenge you to
go visit a local school cafeteria and try for yourself. I KNOW you
will see more fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low fat
dairy than when you were a kid!!! No one is asking for that to go
away. No one is asking to stop offering fruits and veggies. No one is
asking to go back to just serving white gushy bread. No one is asking to
start selling fried foods again. School nutrition folks just want
Congress to SLOW DOWN the new regs so they can catch their breath.

Slow down so kids taste buds can get accustom to a whole grain texture
that they may or may not get at home… slow down so kids can retrain
their taste buds to drink skim milk… so kids become more be willing to
try some of those fruits and veggies not exposed to at home… so they
can get used to the idea of ALWAYS having a fruit or vegetable at
breakfast and lunch… so the kids can get used to foods with less
sodium… I could go on and on.

Any registered dietitian alive, myself included, would NEVER tell a
patient to completely overhaul their entire diet OVER NIGHT! It would
set them up for ultimate failure. That is what the USDA asked school
nutrition teams across America to do. Instead of changing just one or
two (maybe three) things each year, letting schools become successful
with THOSE first and letting kids taste buds adjust, the USDA forced
them to change MULTIPLE MULTIPLE facets of the program all at once for
the first time in over 15 years! Much of those changes did need to
happen… but not overnight.

Just think about it… If you typically drink whole or 2% milk, consume
high fat foods, loaded with sodium, never eat fruits or veggies, let
alone get all your color subgoups in (red/orange, dark green, legumes,
starchy and other), you rarely eat whole grains, fruit at breakfast
beyond juice is foreign to you, AND you’re used to eating large
portions… could you change ALL of those habits overnight with
success?

If I asked you to switch from whole or 2% milk to fat-free skim milk
tomorrow, could you do it? How long could you do it? What if I asked
you to mix 1% milk with your 2% for a couple months, then switch to 1%
for couple months, then mix in fat free skim milk with your 1% for a
couple months, then try skim… do you think you’d be successful? I
DO! I might even ask you to add fruit to every meal, while also trying
the different milk. I still think you’d be successful. I think you
could even handle having whole grain toast. But if I tell you to do it
ALL, TONIGHT and too dang bad if you don’t like it, because it’s your
only choice… I think you’ll fail. Not because you suck. Not because
you aren’t capable. But effective long term change take a systematic
approach over time in order to be sustainable. That’s behavioral change,
people. That’s business and economics. That’s common sense. And not
just for the kids to adjust, but also for the school nutrition staff to
learn (in some cases) how to prepare fresh fruits and vegetables, how to
prepare foods with less fat, how to make a palatable whole grain hot
roll, etc, etc. Small changes over time lead to HUGE results and long
term success!

Let’s keep what is already established in place. Get really good at
it. Bring ALL school districts across the nation up to speed to meet
current standards. THEN, let’s focus on a systematic approach to get to
our final outcome and goal… healthy kids ready to learn and lead the
world!

And, let’s stop arguing and pointing fingers like preschoolers. It
really does take a village to raise a child. Together we CAN do this! I
know we can. I believe in us… I believe in you.

[…] Marion Nestle of NYU recently posted a great contrast of “dueling infographics” about an ongoing school nutrition debate – should schools be allowed to opt out of USDA school […]

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