School systems across the country debate over almost every aspect of school lunch. There are drawn out arguments about the presence of vending machines, how to serve children with food allergies, and what type of food is deemed "healthy". It is the parents of children that are the driving force behind healthy food movements in schools.
Here's a little history lesson, beginning in the 1980s, federal guidelines were made for portion sizes. Grade school and high school students stopped serving the same size meals. This was the beginning of changes that would affect school lunch. By the early 1990s, lunches couldn't contain more than 30% of a child's daily requirement of fat or 10% of saturated fat.
Today, the lunches provide at least one-third of the child's daily requirements of protein and vitamins.
"One of the great things about school food is that a parent can be sure a child has an opportunity to eat a balanced, nutritious meal," says Jan Stanton, a registered dietitian and director of public awareness for the American School Food Service Association. "The food served in schools has to meet very specific federal guidelines, which are established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture."
Parental pressure is even forcing some changes in the widely criticized practice of having vending machines in schools, most of which sell sodas and junk food. However, many schools use vending-machine proceeds to supplement after-school programs.
The vending machines are still in school today, but they now offer healthier options such as granola bars and fruit juice. Parents are still fighting for more healthy options to be added the school lunch system so pay attention, more changes will be seen in the future.