Children Tossing School Lunch Fruits and VegetablesSeptember 17, 2015
Since 2012, the Department of Agriculture has required as part of the school lunch program that children select a fruit or a vegetable at each meal. School lunch offerings have been altered to fit the new regulations, but a new study suggests they are not working well.
Researchers videotaped 498 children during school lunch before the new vegetable rules were imposed. And then they videotaped another 944 children as they went through vegetable-enhanced lunch lines.
After the new rules went into effect, more children selected fruits or vegetables — taking an average 0.89 cups from the lunch line compared with 0.69 cups before the rules were in place. But actual consumption dropped after the new vegetable rules were imposed. Vegetable and fruit consumption dropped to 0.45 cups, down from 0.51 before, and children were throwing out the required foods at a rate 35 percent higher than before the rules were instituted. The study is in Public Health Reports.
Despite the findings, the lead author, Sarah A. Amin, a postdoctoral researcher at Tufts, is not inclined to give up on the guidelines.
“We’re advocating that the guidelines be supplemented with other efforts — taste testing, slicing fruits and vegetables to make them easier to eat, serving vegetables with a dip, recognizing what fruits and vegetables children already prefer,” she said. “We’re optimistic that in the long run, these guidelines will accomplish what they set out to do.”