School lunches get first overhaul in 15 years

Kids can expect more fruits and vegetables, less fat and salt, and more whole grains than in the past.

The new school-meal standards announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wednesday are the first changes to the standards in more than 15 years, and are a major component of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act passed last year. Read more in the Christian Science Monitor. 

Obama pushes salad in schools at $3 billion cost to states

teen girl at salad barAn overhaul of U.S. school meal standards that replaces breaded patties and canned fruit with fresh tomatoes and chef salad will cost $3.2 billion over five years, less than half of what was initially proposed by the Obama administration. Read more in Bloomberg. 

Cook for America swaps mystery meat for homemade meat sauce

In an era when many school cafeterias have long ago traded in fresh baked goods for re-heated, pre-packaged meals, two lady chefs travel across the country on a mission to revolutionize the dreaded school lunch one school district at a time. Check out this ABC News report.

Getting the family involved may help obese kids lose weight

Childhood obesity is a complex issue with no simple solutions, but involving the entire family in weight loss and health may help kids achieve their goals, a report finds.

A scientific statement released Monday in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Assn. reviews strategies shown to be successful in helping kids slim down. Some studies find that obese children can have symptoms normally associated with adult obesity, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. Others suggest that overweight kids often turn into overweight adults. Read more in the Los Angeles Times. 

Got salad? Students at Windsor High do, thanks to one student’s initiative

Long after Amanda Ricketson graduates from Windsor High School, she’ll have left a healthy legacy in the lunch room.

Amanda, a 16-year-old Windsor sophomore with a 4.0 grade-point average, was instrumental in getting a salad bar in the high school cafeteria.

As a freshman last year, Amanda did a PowerPoint presentation about the importance of having a salad bar in the school lunch room. She also put together a video where she interviewed several students about their thoughts regarding salad bars. Read more in My Windsor Now.

School lunches from around the world

Jazz up your child’s lunch by thinking outside lunch box staples and choosing foods from different parts of the world instead. The essential building blocks of these dishes — rice, beans, noodles, and chicken — can be prepared ahead (and served for dinner the night before) then transformed into wraps, rolls, flatbreads, soups, or salads for lunch. Get some ideas from Great Schools. 

Food TED talks: The 8 best lectures on eating and food policy

On Saturday, TEDx Manhattan, an unofficial offshoot of the non-profit TED, will be hosting a series of lectures on the theme “Changing The Way We Eat.” Boulder’s own “renegade lunch lady” and EdNews Parent expert Ann Cooper is among them. The talks are going to be live-streamed at viewing parties across the country. But if you’re busy Saturday – or just want to get a sense of the types of issues that might be discussed – there’s no need to despair. There have been dozens of official TED Talks about food in past years. Read more in the Huffington Post. 

School obesity programs may promote worrisome eating behaviors 

In a new poll, 30 percent of parents report at least one worrisome behavior in their children that could be associated with the development of eating disorders

A new report from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health examines the possible association between school-based childhood obesity prevention programs and an increase in eating disorders among young children and adolescents. Learn more from the University of Michigan. 

Fort Collins school’s climbing wall gives students confidence and exercise

Johnson Elementary third-grader Lilli Blakeslee was all smiles as she grabbed her last hand hold, reached the top of her route on the climbing wall and rang the bell of success.

“I can’t believe I got to the very top!” said an excited Lilli. “That’s my first time all year!”

Every Tuesday morning as many as 30 Johnson Elementary students meet before school to participate in the Climbing Club, an extra-curricular enrichment opportunity for third- through fifth-graders. Students equip themselves with harnesses and choose one of the Rock Climbing Wall routes, which range in difficulty and are all manned by adult volunteer belayers. Fun hand and foot holds like ice-cream cones and letters that spell the name of the school help the climbers as they maneuver themselves to the top. Learn more through the Poudre School District. 

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.