January 2013 Issue

Grumbling Bellies
By Judith Riddle
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 15 No. 1 P. 6

It’s been one year since the unveiling of the new standards for school meals that have resulted in healthier lunches for kids across the country. The new meal requirements have raised standards for the first time in more than 15 years, and chances are they will improve the health and nutrition of nearly 32 million kids who participate in the program each school day.

As you know, the new standards require school cafeterias to serve larger portions of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; fat-free (unflavored/flavored) or 1% (unflavored) milk; less saturated and trans fats and sodium; and proper portion sizes and caloric intake based on age.

While the healthier meals are a key component of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, championed by First Lady Michelle Obama and signed into law by President Obama, ironically they’re leaving many kids across the country with growling bellies by the end of the school day.

To voice an opinion of the new standards, a group of creative high school students in Kansas posted a video on YouTube called “We Are Hungry” to the tune of fun.’s “We Are Young.” If you feel like giggling a bit, go to YouTube and type in the title. There are scenes of kids storing food in their lockers to ensure they have enough to eat in between classes, kids walking the halls snacking on food, kids collapsing on the gym floor during basketball practice, and kids falling asleep in class because they’re hungry and have no energy. While the video parody will make you laugh, the kids’ message is a serious one: The food may be healthful, but it’s not filling them up. You can read more about this and find out what your colleagues had to say about the kids’ reactions in the feature “Healthful School Lunches.”

My son, a high school senior, has different complaints. He says it’s not that the healthier meals leave him hungry; the problem is that the more healthful foods just don’t look appetizing, so he buys the less healthful options from the à la carte menu. What do you think about this? Weigh in with your feedback about this story and the issue’s other articles on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Happy New Year to all, and please enjoy the issue.