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Research Suggests Fast-food May Be Healthier Than School Lunches

Do you know what's in your kid's school lunch? You might be surprised, but recent reports show that they might be better off eating fast food.


Photo: bookgrl (flickr)

Think back…ever wonder what was really in your school lunch? Were those really mashed potatoes? Was the “apple sauce” really even made from apples? All joking aside, it turns out there may actually be some validity to your wondering.

A recent USA Today report found that the government has “provided the nation’s schools with millions of pounds of beef and chicken that wouldn’t meet the quality of safety standards of many fast-food restaurants… such as KFC (and Jack in the Box).”

That’s right, when it comes to meat, USDA food policies are more stringent on fast food than they are for school lunches.

The article goes on to report that eateries such as McDonald’s and Burger King test their ground beef five to ten times more often than the meet served to your children. And it turns out that standards for chicken aren’t much better.

“Spent Hens” Served

Schools are serving poultry that even KFC and Campbell’s soup won’t touch. Much of the chicken is what the industry calls “spent hens”, which means they’re well past their “laying prime,” and would be better fit for pet food.

The USDA response to these allegations? They proclaim that the meat they purchase for the National School Lunch Program “meets or exceeds standards in commercial products.”

What’s A Parent To Do?

To ensure that your child is getting the healthy and nutritious lunch they need and deserve, you might consider taking the time to pack their lunch instead of letting them buy lunch at their school lunch counter.

Mornings can be hectic, so try to find time the night before to fill your kids’ lunchboxes with fresh fruits and vegetables instead.

There is also a growing movement demanding healthier school lunch options, so you might consider joining together with other parents in your community to approach your school board or senior administrators to encourage them to raise the quality of school lunches and include more locally grown ingredients.

Read More:

  • Fast-food Safety Rules Trump Those For School Lunches (USA Today)
  • Are Big Macs Safer Than School Food? (Atlantic Online)
Emily Shelton

Emily Shelton is a web producer and blogger for Earth Eats. A native of Evansville, Indiana, Emily moved to Bloomington in the fall of 2007 to attend Indiana University, pursuing a major in Telecommunications and a minor in Business. Emily began interning at WFIU in the fall of 2008 and is now an Assistant Web Producer. As an official Earth Eats "tweeter", Emily loves spreading the word about the importance of environmental issues and "going green". In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, writing, and looking at pictures of delicious meals that she'll only ever dream about.

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