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The Physicians Committee



NEWS RELEASE August 28, 2002

School Lunches Flunk Nutrition Test, Say Doctors

Six of the Biggest School Districts Score D or Lower; Ft. Lauderdale a Bright Spot; Houston and Detroit Tie for Worst

WASHINGTON—Nine of the 10 biggest school districts in the country are failing to provide the kind of healthy lunches that would help prevent childhood obesity and other health problems, say a team of dietitians with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). The organization is issuing its annual School Lunch Report Card today.

PCRM’s nutrition department graded the nutritional quality of the elementary school lunches served in ten of the largest U.S. school districts participating in the federally assisted National School Lunch Program. The program is operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“If we’re going to reverse current trends of childhood obesity and diabetes, we’ve got to get more low-fat and vegetarian meals on the school menus,” says PCRM staff dietitian Jen Keller, R.D. “Kids need more fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains and fewer greasy hamburgers, chicken nuggets, and French fries. Learning how to eat right is a lesson that will benefit them for life.”

Dietitians analyzed 15 days worth of menus for each school, awarding points based on whether the institution met the USDA’s standard nutrition guidelines and how frequently it offered low-fat vegetable side dishes, whole or dried fruit, hot meatless and vegan entrées, and cholesterol-free options. The schools earned extra points for offering nondairy, calcium-rich beverages. Here are the results:

School District

Location

Points (out of 100)

Grade

Broward County School District

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

85

B

Dade County School District

Miami, Fla.

71

C

Fairfax County Public Schools

Fairfax, Va.

71

C

New York City Public Schools

New York, N.Y.

70

C

Clark County School District

Las Vegas, Nev.

66

D

Dallas Independent School District

Dallas, Tex.

65

D

Los Angeles Unified School District

Los Angeles, Calif.

60

D

Philadelphia City School District

Philadelphia, Penn.

59

F

Detroit City School District

Detroit, Mich.

57

F

Houston Independent School District

Houston, Tex.

57

F


Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.



Media Contact:
Tara Failey
202-527-7319
tfailey@pcrm.org

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