Food for Thought
The conventional wisdom is that most children will snub their noses at healthy foods, especially nutritional school lunches. Yet this wisdom is being challenged by the results of a new study in the Winter 2007 issue of the Review of Agricultural Economics.
Researchers analyzed 5 years of data for 30 Minnesota public school districts to determine whether schools were complying with federal standards for calories, nutrients and fat and to offer suggestions for improvements. After crunching the numbers, the investigators found that lunch sales were just as high in the schools that served the healthiest meals as in those that did not. While labor costs were higher for the better meals, fruits and vegetables were less expensive than processed foods, thus offsetting the preparation costs.
“This study finds, contrary to widely
held views, that lunch sales do not decline when healthier meals with less fat,
for example, are served and that more nutritious lunches do not necessarily
cost more,” the researchers concluded. They also suggested that many districts
need to upgrade their kitchens and train staff to prepare healthier school