Revamping school lunch guidelines

Aug 23, 2012

School kids will be seeing new foods in the cafeteria this year, thanks to new federal school lunch standards.

Students will see more fruits and vegetables, lower-fat protein choices, low-fat milk, and appropriate portion
sizes. Cleveland Clinic dietitian Andrea Rumschlag suggests parents take a good look at weekly menus and supplement what's being offered if a child doesn't like part of the meal. 

Rumschlag: Your child might not like the side vegetables and fruit that are offered, so feel free to pack those with them, so you know they're at least getting partly something that they'll enjoy and that is good for for them.

She also encourages parents to talk to schools about new foods that could be added to the meal plans. 32-million U.S. kids eat school lunches, where they get as much as half of their recommended daily caloric intake. 12-million students also eat breakfast at school.  Mark Terry of the National Association of Elementary School Principals says the meals make a difference.

Terry:  the research is pretty clear that the academic benefits: classroom performance and test scores, reduced tardiness and absenteeism,  fewer visits to the nurse's or principal's office

Terry says even more U.S. children do not eat school breakfast, due to issues of poverty and transportation.