Why healthy school lunch standards are worth fighting for

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This article originally appeared on NEAToday.org

Lawmakers in Congress have proposed allowing schools to temporarily opt out of the healthy school lunch standards put in place by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act. Donna West, a cafeteria manager at Brownwood Elementary School in Scottsboro, AL, and an NEA board member, explains why such a move would undermine not only student health, but also academic achievement.

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Four years ago, when we introduced wheat rolls during lunch at Brownwood Elementary School in Scottsboro, Alabama, most ended up in the garbage. At the time, we were starting our “healthy school challenge.” Fortunately, with patience and persistence the changes are now an accepted part of our food culture and our students are healthier for it.

Nutrition updates involved serving meals with less sugar, salt, and fat. With the advent of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), which set higher nutritional standards for school lunches, I expect many food service workers across the country were experiencing the same agony I was at seeing whole grain bread, fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods end up in the trash.

Eating healthy is a lifestyle change. It takes time to move forward, but I am seeing it happen at Brownwood. Some of this progress is the result of having legislation like the HHFKA that promotes more healthy and nutritious meals for our students.

Read the complete article at NEAToday.org!

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