By Kate Kinane
Lunchtime in schools across the Island rings a special bell in the ears—and stomachs—of hungry students. Socializing and relaxing are main objectives when this much needed break ensues. But health?
Well, some schools on Long Island are trying to follow the guidelines laid out by the USDA and nix the nasty habit of unhealthy eating that starts with childhood meals. Port Washington Union Free School District, according to its website, is introducing students to “tasty and wholesome foods, [the] best food preparation practices, and providing opportunities for nutrition education.” Port Washington also has committees that meet regularly to discuss the quality of food being served in the schools. East Islip School District has posted a complete nutritional profile on its website for the food served in its schools. Although some of the food is not completely nutritionally sound, this public profile, along with the weekly posted school lunch menu, can help parents help their kids plan healthy lunches for the week by choosing the healthiest options.
According to www.HealthySchoolLunches.com, the USDA offers a reimbursement to those schools following these healthy school lunch guidelines: weekly, food must contain no more than 30 percent of calories from fat, no more than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat and provide one-third of the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for calories, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium, the other two-thirds being made up at breakfast and dinner.
According to Laura Lynn Iacono, CEO and founder of One Potato Two Tomato, a specialty camp and food education facility for parents, children and families in Albertson, healthy eating for kids starts with their parents. “It is the parents’ responsibility to make sure the child eats all the food groups,” says Iacono. “Parents should be educated.”