Can state laws help kids eat more fruits & veggies in school?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
State laws that require fruits and vegetables in school meals may improve fruit and vegetable intake among students.
WHAT WE KNOW
School lunch programs and the USDA are working together to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables students are consuming. Last fall, new school lunch standards were mandated in an effort to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in the student population, among other things. Unfortunately, many students have limited access to healthy foods at home as well as in school. Having access to healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, in school may improve fruit and vegetable intake among students.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine examined the association between laws requiring fruits and vegetables in school meals and fruit and vegetable intake among students, particularly those with limited access to those foods at home. Researchers found that the association between the fruit and vegetable requirement and fruit and vegetable intake was strongest among students without regular home access to healthy foods. These students had access to only unhealthy foods at home and regularly consumed school meals. The average fruit and vegetable intakes among students were 0.45 and 0.61 cups per day higher in states with the fruit and vegetable requirement than those without it. The study also found that students who had access to healthy foods at home consumed more fruits and vegetables each day than those students who did not. These disparities were smaller in states with the fruit and vegetable requirements.*
Aim to be a good role model for your children, so they can make healthy meal choices at home as well as in school. Here are a few ways to get your children to eat more fruits and veggies …
- Calling All Chefs. Get your kids in the kitchen and assign them a duty in meal preparation-maybe peeling the bananas for our banana in a blanket recipe!
- Spring is in the Air. Spring’s the perfect time for a family picnic! Let your kids choose their favorite fruits and vegetables to pack up for a family outing to the local park or zoo.
- Something Old … Something New. A great way to sneak a new fruit or vegetable into your child’s diet is by pairing it with a familiar food. If your kids love mac and cheese, but aren’t so keen on broccoli, try introducing them to the delicious, green vegetable in our crazy, curly broccoli bake. They might even ask for more!
* Taber, Daniel R., Jamie F. Chriqui, and Frank J. Chaloupka. “State Laws Governing School Meals and Disparities in Fruit/Vegetable Intake.” American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Mar. 2013. Web. 13 Mar. 2013. View Article