11 September 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The School Cafeteria, on a Diet” (Business Day, Sept. 5):

While we need to ensure that healthier foods are sold in vending machines and served during school celebrations, parents should also know that the “strict nutrition standards” that govern federally subsidized school lunch programs still fall short of being truly healthy for children.

The United States Department of Agriculture purchases food, including high-fat meat and dairy products, under the direction of Congress based on agricultural surpluses and price support activities to help American agriculture producers.

These products are then dumped into schools as part of the National School Lunch program. High-fat, cholesterol-laden chicken nuggets and burgers meet requirements set by the U.S.D.A. in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and schools can be reimbursed for selling them.

But like sodas and sugary snacks, meat and dairy products also play a role in our children’s expanding waistlines. The cheeseburgers and meat tacos our children eat at school also deserve our full attention.

Dulcie Ward
Washington, Sept. 6, 2007
The writer is a staff dietitian at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

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