A healthy school food program is more than simply nutritious, and it certainly isn’t one-size-fits-all. It is sensitive and respectful of its students by incorporating some or all of the following criteria:
Ethnic foods. We live in a diverse world where cultural awareness and exploration are paramount. Ethnic ingredients and flavors contribute richly to our national cuisine and open our senses to international flavors. From adding new spices to bland dishes to introducing children to the traditions of other cultures, ethnic foods serve as practical teaching tools. By setting this high standard, we can build an environment of acceptance and respect.
Vegetarian and vegan foods. The inclusion of vegetarian options in the school food program is one way to ensure a balanced menu that offers choices for everyone. Vegan foods, which do not use any animal products whatsoever—including dairy and eggs—should be provided as well. Soy, tempeh and legumes are good sources of nutritious, vegan protein. Whole grains combined with beans form complete proteins that are filling and nutritious and low in saturated fat.
Artificial ingredients and preservatives. By reading and understanding labels, we can eliminate preservatives, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, and flavorings in our children’s food. Cheap, pervasive additives like caffeine, high-fructose corn syrup and sugar stimulate our children in unhealthy, unproductive ways. High-fructose corn syrup is found in unexpected places—not only in soft drinks, but also jams, baked goods and condiments such ketchup. MonoSodium Glutamate (MSG) and nitrates flavor and preserve foods, masking innate integrities and adding toxic chemicals that bodies struggle to process. A healthy school food program banishes these ingredients—and children are all the better for it.]]>