10 Worst School Lunch Menu Items


1
Meat(loaf) and Potatoes

The all-American meal of meat and potatoes, while filling and potentially nutritious, can be a nutritional disaster in the hands of an underfunded school district. When the "meat" becomes "meatloaf" (read "filler") and the potatoes become a buttered, powder-derived pile of high-fat carbs, this old cafeteria standby becomes one of the highest calorie meals on the menu.

It also offers another health no-no, especially for kids: cholesterol. With approximately 80 grams per serving, the meatloaf meal supplies up to a third of the maximum amount of cholesterol a child should consume in an entire day.

To avoid the potential health pitfalls of school lunch, you can always pack it yourself. But don't worry: Your baby needn't skip a meal if she leaves her brown bag on the kitchen counter. While it may sound grim, these 10 items are just a small sampling of the meals being served in cafeterias around the country. Lots of schools have taken on healthier standards and offer plenty of lower-fat, higher-nutrition options; and even those that haven't yet pulled it together often have at least a few healthier options available, such as fruit, granola bars and green salads. It's all about making good choices.

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Sources

  • Brar, Deepi. "How Many Calories Are You Drinking?" ahealthyme.com, 2009. http://www.ahealthyme.com/topic/drinkcalc
  • "Cancer and food." Better Health Channel. (Dec. 31, 2011) http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Cancer_and_food?open
  • "Consumer Reports Conducts Largest Test of its Kind to Bring Consumers the Truth About Irradiated Meat." consumersunion.org, July 8, 2003. http://www.consumersunion.org/pub/core_food_safety/000211.html
  • Fischler, Marcelle S. "No More Mystery Meat." boston.com, Oct. 7, 2006. http://www.boston.com/news/education/k_12/articles/2006/10/07/no_more_mystery_meat/
  • "The Five Most Unhealthful School Lunches." Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Spring 2010. (Dec. 28, 2011) http://www.pcrm.org/search/?cid=49
  • Gardner, Amanda. "School Lunches Too Fatty and Sugary, Critics Say." (Health Day) Chef Ann Cooper. March 4, 2009. (Dec. 28, 2011) http://www.chefann.com/blog/archives/1113
  • "High Cholesterol in Children." WebMD. (Dec. 31, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/guide/high-cholesterol-children
  • Mckay, Gretchen. "School cafeteria lunches are getting better and better." post-gazette.com, Sept. 13, 2007. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07256/816995-34.stm
  • Philpot, Tom. "Time to reinvest in the school-lunch program." grist.com, Sept. 27, 2007. http://www.grist.org/article/cookin-it-old-school/
  • Shepley, Dan. "School Lunch Nutrition Standards Haven't Been Updated in 30 Years." thedailygreen.com, March 6, 2009. http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/school-lunch-junk-food-47030601
  • "USDA Issues Final Rule on Meat and Poultry Irradiation." usda.gov, December 1999. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Oa/background/irrad_final.htm

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