Thursday, April 15, 2010

What Parents Believe About School Food

The following list of guiding principles of Parents for Better D.C. School Food represents the fondest wishes of its members. We are neither a scientific panel, nor a legislative body, but rather adults concerned about the welfare of all children in the District of Columbia, and especially about foods they eat and the role of school food services in children's health and well-being.

Please write your D.C. council members and urge them to pass the "Healthy Schools Act." Include a link to this post.

We believe that all children are entitled to be served healthful, nutritious meals while attending public school.

We believe that processed school foods should be replaced with foods made from whole, unprocessed ingredients, preferably from local, sustainable sources.

We believe school meals should be made from scratch whenever possible.

We believe that added sugars should be avoided.

We believe children should not be exposed to high-fructose corn syrup.

We believe children should not be served trans-fats or hydrogenated oils.

We believe that Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, such as those from corn, soybean and cottonseed oil, should be largely replaced with healthful mono-unsaturated fats, such as those from olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil and avocado, and that children should consume more Omega-3 fats.

We believe that calories in school breakfasts should be derived primarily from healthy fats and proteins--including milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy--and fresh fruit, and only secondarily from starchy carbohydrates.

We believe that cereals should contain no more than 4 grams of sugar per ¾-cup--or 1-ounce-- serving, whichever is less.

We believe that children should have more vegetarian options, and that school meals should be meatless at least one day each week.

We believe that grain products served in schools should be primarily whole grain.

We believe that school cafeterias should be equipped with salad bars offering an array of fresh greens, vegetables, proteins and freshly-made dressings.

We believe that packaged foods should be replaced with unpackaged foods.

We believe that flavored milks should be served only occasionally, if at all.

We believe that all school milk should be free of antibiotics and non-therapeutic hormones.

We believe fruit juices should be served only occasionally, and should otherwise be replaced with whole fruits.

We believe children should be encouraged to drink water with their meals.

We believe students should have a minimum 30 minutes in which to eat their meals.

We believe ingredients for all foods served in D.C. schools should be posted on the internet and in other places where they can be easily accessed by the public.

We believe that school cafeterias should be open environments where parents can join their children and encourage healthful eating habits.


  1. Nice Job!
    This list of guiding principles is similar to the Better School Food Top 10 list that was developed back in 2004 when Better School Food was started.

    Two items I would suggest tweaking:
    Eliminate fruit juice all together. The science shows that fruit juice (even 100% fruit juice) is damaging to the liver and promotes both hunger and obesity.

    Instead of recommending children drink water, I would suggest INSISTING that clean, fresh, good tasting filtered water be made available to all students FREE of COST! Bottled water is a crime economically and environmentally.

    Next step:
    Find some kids and video them stating these guiding principles. We did something like that years ago with the Better School Food Children's Bill of Rights

    Let's get PTAs across the country to adopt these guiding principles, they are a good start.

  2. I agree with it all, except that the 4 grams of sugar rule excludes Raisin Bran. Maybe just a list of approved cereals? I would support eliminating fruit juice altogether as well. I think it is absolutely unnecessary. And, no flavored milk, ever.

    I would include: school stores may not sell candy and school staff is prohibited from handing out candy to children, with the possible exception of the school day preceding and following Valentine's day, Easter, Christmas, and Halloween.

  3. Just wondering - how do you propose to pay for all of this?

  4. Libbie, raisins are little sugar bombs. My suggestion would be, serve bran cereal, and if kids want raisins in it they can bring them from home.

  5. Sure ... because I'm sure you never buy bottled salad dressing at home.

    Hate to break it to you, but it's only nutritious if the kids actually eat it.

    And I second the third comment -- exactly how do you propose to pay for this? And I don't just mean food costs, but also labor costs.