As the childhood obesity epidemic continues to rise in the United States, many people point fingers at schools. No matter how much effort parents put into a healthy lifestyle at home, there is often concern over what the child eats outside the home, primarily when they are at school. Although some cafeterias have already taken the initiative to serve healthy meals, others are still struggling to offer healthy, fresh options to their students. This can be a leading cause of weight gain and even lead to obesity. A recent article from The New York Times highlights one school district that is making big changes in the way it presents its lunches to students.
In the midsize city of Greeley, Colorado, they are trying to break the mold by cooking their school meals from scratch. Although many schools have been serving things like pizza and chicken nuggets to their students, this school will use real ingredients and spices. They will also cleverly sneak vegetables and fiber into the meals where children do not expect them, such as in the pasta sauce.
Colorado has been the least obese state in the nation since federal health measurements of American obesity began and is now a leader in this “back-to-scratch movement.”
“A lot of schools are looking to prepare more items from scratch, and starting to prepare more, but there are tremendous hurdles,” said Diane Pratt-Heavner, a spokeswoman for the School Nutrition Association.
Greeley’s school districts plan to cook from scratch about 75 percent of the time on opening day, with a goal of 100 percent by this time next year. The number of ingredients per average meal are already plummeting.
“The biggest myth is that it costs more money” to serve fresh food, said Kate Adamick, a food consultant based in New York and co-founder of Cook for America. Federal reimbursement rules could actually give poorer school systems some advantages in shifting back to scratch, especially for meat, which many districts buy with deep discounts. By cooking meat themselves, rather than paying a processor, schools can save a significant amount of money.
It will be interesting to see if other schools follow this example and cook their meals from scratch. Camp Shane weight loss camps for children and Shane Diet Resorts weight loss program for adults know that a healthy meal often stems from using as little ingredients as possible. Food can still be fresh and delicious when it’s made with less ingredients! What are your thoughts on this “back-to-scratch” movement? Will this make a significant impact on childhood obesity?