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School Lunches

"Impact of the New U.S. Department of Agriculture School Meal Standards on Food Selection, Consumption, and Waste"

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Students have consumed more vegetables since the U.S. Department of Agriculture implemented new school food standards, suggests a study published this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The new standards, created following the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, require schools to serve more grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Researchers from Harvard University collected plate waste data from 1,030 students in four schools in an unnamed urban, low-income school district, both before and after the new standards went into effect, to measure how much food students put on their trays and how much they threw away.

In addition to the increase in vegetable consumption, the researchers found that, even though overall consumption of fruits remained the same, more students were eating them.

And, while students still threw away much of what they were served, the total amount of fruits and vegetables discarded went down following the standards' implementation, according to the report.

Vol. 33, Issue 24, Page 5

Published in Print: March 12, 2014, as School Lunches
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