New York City did a great job decreasing fat and calories in school lunches for children…in some cases too good. It was found that the NYC schools were actually feeding children too little calories based on 1994 guidelines from the Dept of Agriculture. They made healthy switches such as low fat chocolate milk and turkey bacon. The problem was additional items to fill the calorie gap were not always provided.
“The menu changes were part of an ambitious city campaign against childhood obesity that dates back almost a decade, and also included eliminating soda from all school vending machines; supplanting canned vegetables with fresh and frozen ones; removing artificial trans-fat from all foods served in schools; reducing sodium and increasing fiber; and removing all deep fryers.”
The article states they did not intend to decrease calories but rather to increase nutritional content. By choosing nutrient dense foods they actually served meals under the required limits. In response they have re-evaluated the guidelines and adjusted meals accordingly by age group. It is important, and exciting to note, that while they are re-adjusting the calorie count they are still trying to: reduce sodium, and increase the numbers of fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
FYI: “The new rules require 550 calories through the fifth grade, 600 for middle school students and 750 for high schools. The maximums are 100 calories higher than the minimums.”