Thirty million children eat school lunches daily in the United States, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Child Nutrition Commodity Program plays a major role in what is served on their plates. Too often, because of what school districts order from the program or how commodity foods are processed before reaching students, these meals fall far short of federal nutrition guidelines.
This policy highlight details findings from an analysis of how the Child Nutrition Commodity Program impacts the nutritional quality of school breakfasts and lunches. Though it focuses primarily on practices in California, its findings include recommendations of relevance to other states and the nation. Healthy Eating Research funded the analysis, which was conducted by California Food Policy Advocates and Samuels & Associates.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans should be reflected in School Meal Initiative Standards, and schools should have to meet them. Efforts to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables and decrease the amount of meats and processed foods purchased for school meals would contribute to providing students with much healthier foods.