Letter to the Editor

Working to improve school nutrition

Sunday, August 29, 2010

To the Editor:

As another school year begins, millions of parents are rushing to buy school supplies are worrying about whether their kids will make friends.

But should they also be worried about what's served in school cafeterias?

As a dietitian working to improve school nutrition, I know schools are working hard to serve healthier meals to fight childhood obesity. In a recent School Nutrition Association survey, more than half of schools surveyed are increasing vegetarian options. We must do everything in our power to help.

Currently, Congress is reauthorizing child nutrition legislation and raising nutrition standards for school meals. Soon, schools will be asked to serve more fruits, vegetables and other healthful plant foods, and less sodium and saturated fat.

Schools should have access to vegetarian center-of-the-plate commodity foods, in addition to fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Studies show that low-fat vegetarian foods can help lower the risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and other health problems plaguing children.

Children who are introduced to healthful foods early on have a greater chance of developing lifelong good eating habits -- and lifelong good health.

Kathryn Strong, M.S., R.D.,

Staff Dietitian,

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine,

Washington, D.C.