"We are dramatically shifting the quality of the food we're putting in our kids' bodies," said the Senior Policy Advisor...
Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass explained the changes in school lunches that begin this Fall, during a virtual 'Back to School Night' hosted by the National PTA on Thursday evening. Kass took live questions via Twitter (#schoolfoodsrule) as part of a panel moderated by Jessica Donze Black, Director, Kid's Safe and Healthful Foods Project, The Pew Charitable Trusts. PTA President Betsy Landers and USDA Administrator for the Food and Nutrition Service Audrey Rowe also participated in the hour-long event that was webcast from Washington, DC. (Above: From l, Donze Black, Landers, Rowe, and Kass).
"We are dramatically shifting the quality of the food we're putting in our kids bodies," Kass said. "This is real change."
Kass and the other panelists encouraged parents to talk about healthy foods, participate in gardening projects, and support their schools during the transition period for the new lunch standards, which offer whole grains, fruits and vegetables at every meal, low-fat dairy, and a reduction in fat and sodium. School chefs, Kass said, need plenty of parental support, and he encouraged parents to volunteer during lunch periods.
"Every time we put a plate in front of our children, that's a teachable moment," Kass said.
"School chefs are getting really high quality food out, and suppliers are making dramatic improvements too," Kass noted. "We're going to have take a longview on how we keep reinvesting in kids' nutrition in the long term."
In a light moment, Kass, who has eaten lunch with kids at schools across the US, said his favorite school meal now is ground turkey tacos in whole wheat tortillas, with rice and beans and vegetables.
There's a link here to watch the full webcast.
The Department of Agriculture has a range of Tool Kits available for parents, educators, students, administrators & school chefs to help with the transition. CLICK HERE.
On Friday, USDA announced $5.2 million in grants to help schools during the transition period.
*Photo by National PTA