In March, the guidelines for school lunches have changed to add more whole grains, lower fat and sodium items, and also incorporate healthier fruits and veggies into the meals. Over the past few months, the program has come under fire, with many saying that the old guidelines were just fine.
The resistance to improvements in school food may not be as high as recently reported. It comes as no surprise that familiarity to specific foods is a powerful determinant of dietary preference. Children, and some adults alike, tend to prefer to stick to those foods that we have grown up with and know well.
Taste buds are adaptable and when children can’t be with the foods they love, they can learn to love the new foods they are with. This can happen in as little as a few weeks. This is why many critics of the new school lunch guidelines need to know if there is genuine resistance to new school nutrition standards, or merely the inevitable and temporary resistance to change.
Either way, school nutrition would change more readily for the better if this were not only about cafeterias but also about culture. The job of making our children care about nutrition and health, resides not with our schools but with ourselves.
You can help encourage your children to embrace the new school lunch guidelines by also adding new fruits and vegetables to your family meals as well. This will help them be more open to changes on their usual items, which will help make the new transition easier and will also help them become more involved in their meals!