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Give Schools the Tools to Solve Cafeteria Challenges

Every day more than 30 million American kids get their lunches at their schools. For the past three decades, child obesity has skyrocketed, but today, school lunches are healthier than they have been for a long time.

Every school lunch now requires, by law, a serving of of fruit or vegetables, lean protein and foods rich in whole grains, while one-third of schools offer self-serve salad bars.

But while it is true that schoolchildren are eating healthier and more nutritious foods, Jessica Donze Black, Director of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ child nutrition project argues that this is the time for policy makers in Congress to provide schools with finances for more training and tools for continued improvement in child nutrition.

“When the updated meal standards took effect in 2012, The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation surveyed school meal program administrators nationwide and found that 88 percent of districts reported needing at least one new piece of kitchen equipment to serve healthier meals, such as ovens to cook baked potatoes and large-capacity slicers to cut fruit and vegetables. Almost two-thirds reported staff training needs, but only 37 percent said they had the necessary funding to provide the training.”

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