Recently, I attended the School Nutrition Association (SNA) conference in Denver, Colorado. SNA focuses on nourishing students to achieve overall wellness and lifelong success. Just like all healthcare practitioners, SNA professionals are concerned with the obesity, diabetes, and heart disease epidemic. School lunch has been a controversial topic for some time, stemming from the difficulty of meeting nutritional standards via child-friendly meals under a host of restrictive parameters, including limited kitchen space, staff, skills, time and budget. I spoke with many nutrition and school professionals and the one thing that we all agree on and are striving to accomplish is increasing kids’ fruit and vegetable consumption. And the United States Department of Agriculture agrees; the federal register requires schools to increase the offerings of fruits and vegetables and to meet nutritional needs of school children within their calorie requirements.*
The epidemic of processed, convenience foods available everywhere has not made increasing fruit and vegetable consumption easier; however, what is easy is a simple pear or a few carrots. Serve and cook with fruits and vegetables at every meal or snack and kids will start to eat better, become familiar with normal, healthy food, and as a society, we will be one step closer to reversing the epidemic.