New York City has been lauded for its efforts to combat obesity in its public school students, but a recent finding shows that the new, more healthful menus don’t meet minimum calorie requirements for school lunches set by the USDA. Currently, a school lunch must be at least 785 calories—though this is set to change to 550 calories for lunch for students through fifth grade, 600 calories for lunches for fifth through sixth graders, and 750 for high school students.
Though replacing pork bacon with turkey (which cuts 64 calories) and french fries with baked potato strips reduces the threat of obesity to students, Joel Berg of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger does not approve of the menu changes. “[The menu replacement] is based on the city’s absurd belief that hunger no longer exists among children, despite federal data that proves that one in four New York City children live in food-insecure homes. The city’s one and only response to child hunger is taking food away from kids.” The city has also decided to stop serving breakfasts in classrooms under the logic that this invites children to overeat. (Before school, breakfasts will continue to be available for free in school cafeterias.)
Contentious though these changes may be, obesity in New York City public school children has dropped 5.5% in the past five years. And 21% of the city’s elementary and middle school students are still obese. (Photo: USDA/Flickr)