An Educational Approach to School Food: Using Nutrition Standards to Promote Healthy Dietary Habits
33 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2010 Last revised: 20 Jan 2014
Date Written: February 23, 2010
This article proposes a novel approach to school food reform that promotes healthy dietary habits. Daily aggregate nutrition standardization (DANS) assigns each student an individualized standard to monitor the nutritional quality of all food provided to that student in school at any time of the day, including meals and snacks, whether from the cafeteria, vending machines, bake sales, or in class. DANS would enable schools to track all foods purchased by or served to a student each day and to compare the nutritional content of those foods to a nutrition standard appropriate for that student. Cafeteria registers and vending machines could easily be programmed to carry out DANS with only minor modifications to existing software currently used for menu planning, nutrient analysis, account management, and sales transactions. DANS could generate information that would allow parents, health professionals, or other interested parties to keep track of the nutritional profile of foods served to a child in school. DANS could also block purchases of foods that are inconsistent with a student’s daily aggregate nutrition standard. Rather than instituting an outright ban on “bad” foods, DANS would help children develop healthy dietary habits in a more realistic environment that includes many of the temptations they face outside of school. DANS uses school food as an educational resource to equip students with the critical thinking skills and good judgment that they need to survive in the contemporary food system.
Keywords: school food, food law, NSLP, school lunch, nutrition
JEL Classification: Q18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation