By Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook
The Chicago Tribune reports today that schools there are undertaking a major revamping of menus, removing sugary foods such as Pop-Tarts and embracing Institute of Medicine recommendations that call for more vegetables and whole grains.
Chicago public schools use the same food service provider--Chartwells--as the District of Columbia, where Pop-Tarts and candied cereals are routinely served for breakfast. The Chicago schools will reduce serving nachos to just once a week in high school, and once a month in elementary schools. According to the Tribune, sweet packaged desserts will also be reduced to weekly treats. Doughnuts and Pop-Tarts will be eliminated entirely.
The new guidelines state that "no items served may contain 'dessert of candy type' ingredients or flavors such as chocolate etc." But apparently this does not apply to flavored milk. Another exception to the rule is Chocolate Mini-Wheats cereal--also served here in the District--because it is high in fiber. The new Chicago rules require that all breakfast cereals contain no more than five grams of sugar unless they provide three or more grams of fiber.
The Tribune further reports that the new rules "include meal planning guidelines that generally meet Institute of Medicine recommendations developed last year at the request of the U.S. Department of Agriculture" that call for increased servings of vegetables and whole grains. But it was unclear whether the Chicago approach included the IOM's call for increased portion sizes of vegetables, which has been rejected by drafters of "Healthy Schools" legislation pending before the D.C. Council because school officials say they can't guarantee kids will eat the vegetables they make and not throw them in the trash.
The Tribune reporter who wrote the story, Monica Eng, said in an e-mail she believes the schools are specifically targeting nachos, cookies, Pop-Tart and doughnuts "because of specific page one stories I wrote singling them out." Eng has been nominated for a James Beard award for a story she wrote about nachos served daily in Chicago schools.
11 months ago