Vending machine snacks are losing the war on school cafeteria food choices. According to a recent study from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, more kids than ever are choosing fruit on the school lunch line. In fact, over the past two years, since the new National School Lunch program has been put in place, that number has jumped from 54 percent to 66 percent. The study also found that over the past few years, children have been wasting less food during lunchtime. Students now eat 84 percent of their entrees on average, up from 71 percent before the new program was in place.
During the study, food consumption and waste data was collected from a group of middle school students in 12 schools in an urban area. The eating habits of kids were studied between 2012 and 2014. However, the School Nutrition Organization has doubts about the study. Fruit consumption will be up, of course, because, under the new school lunch policy, kids are required to take a piece of fruit and put it on their lunch tray. In addition, curiously, vegetable consumption actually decreased from 68 percent to 51 percent. But the study’s authors remain positive.
“Our results indicate that the revised NSLP nutrition standards and policies have led to more nutritious meals and less overall plate waste,” the study authors wrote. “There has also been a decrease in vegetable plate waste. Although fewer students are selecting vegetables, those who do choose vegetables eat more of the serving and throw away less.”