Key Changes Recommended for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
A. Make menu offerings and nutritional requirements consistent with current scientific evidence showing that plant foods promote good health and help children maintain a healthy weight.
To this end, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) recommends that low-fat vegetarian and vegan entrées be offered daily as an option for all children.
B. Meet the nutritional needs of all children. Since perhaps as many as a third of American children are not lactose tolerant and/or have allergies to cow’s milk, schools should offer equally priced nondairy, calcium-rich beverages at every meal. Considering also that milk is the primary source of saturated fat in children’s diets, PCRM is calling on the USDA to mandate the offering of nondairy, calcium-fortified beverages for all children in all child nutrition programs.
C. Meals should include a variety of low-fat vegetable dishes and fresh or dried fruits.
D. Restructure the commodities program to provide foods that offer health benefits to children in government-sponsored nutrition programs. PCRM is calling on the USDA to stop putting livestock industry interests ahead of the health needs of children and to discontinue buying beef, pork, chicken, butter, cheese, processed meats, and other foods high in saturated fat. USDA purchases should facilitate the consumption of healthy foods that are lacking in children’s diets—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
E. Not only do schools need to offer healthier food choices, schools must provide programs to teach food service workers, parents, and children about healthy eating and promote good dietary habits.