"For us, it's wonderful that we now have something in place where we are all doing the same thing," Smith said. "Now we can all move toward the same goal. It's difficult when everyone is working with different standards."
Food manufacturers will benefit because they often had to produce similar items in different ways to meet the nutritional standards of different school districts, Smith said. That in turn increased the cost to the schools.
Which isn't to say that meeting the USDA requirements will be cheap. Fresh and nutritious food is more expensive than processed foods, and it has a shorter shelf life, Smith said.
"It's definitely going to take additional money," Smith said. "When we serve fresh green beans versus canned green beans, the cost is nine cents more per serving. It's worth the additional money. We just have to find ways to absorb that additional cost."
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on childhood nutrition.
A companion article has more on school system efforts to improve lunchroom offerings.
SOURCES: Leah Schmidt, director, food and nutrition, Hickman Mills School District, Kansas City, Mo.; Marcia Smith, Ph.D., nutrition director, Polk County Public School District, Bartow, Fla.; Marjorie Nolan, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association
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