Study: School lunches now healthier at racially diverse schools
First Lady Michelle Obama’s prized healthy school lunch standards have given students at smaller and racially diverse schools access to healthier lunches, a new study from a heath and health care advocacy group found.
The study, commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that during the 2010-2011 school year, the odds of having both fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, available everyday was 2.4 and 2.3 times higher, respectively, for students in predominantly white middle schools than for students in more diverse schools.
At the high school level, the odds of having whole grains available daily was almost twice as high for students attending predominantly white schools as for students attending more diverse schools, the study of 948 schools in 48 states found.
But by the 2012-2013 school year, when schools began implementing the healthier nutrition standards the availability of these nutritious items had increased enough in more diverse schools so that differences were no longer significant, the study said.
In middle schools, the study found that 70 percent of students were attended a school in the 202-2013 school year that offered whole grains every day, up from the 51 percent who did in 2010-2011.
In high school, 73 percent attended a school that offered whole grains every day in 2012-2013, up from the 62 percent who did in 2010-2011.
“Some states and school districts have been working to offer healthier meals for years-our study shows that the national standards support those efforts and may be helping to close gaps that were leaving many students without access to nutritious school meals,” University of Michigan Research Associate Yvonne Terry-McElrath said in a statement.
McElrath works with Bridging the Gap, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s research program.
GOP lawmakers and special interest groups have been working to roll back some of the healthy schools lunch requirement and provide schools in with more flexibility to meet whole grain rich and sodium requirements.