Schools can help children eat smart and move more! Schools can make sure that healthy eating options are offered to children. They can also remove sugar-sweetened beverages from the cafeterias and restrict unhealthy foods at any events in the schools. In addition, making physical activity a priority during the school day, along with ample time for recess, will help combat childhood obesity and overweight.
Fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly those locally grown, can improve the taste and nutritional quality of school meals. The Rhode Island Farm to School Project at Farm Fresh RI helps school districts source locally. Menu planners may contact them for assistance in finding local produce.
The Rhode Island Nutrition Requirements sets standards to make food in the cafeteria healthier, including the minimum servings of fruits, vegetables and cooked beans or peas on the menu and maximum amount of salt in the food served. Additionally, students must have the option of low-fat milk in the cafeteria. (more)
Whole grains have more fiber, more nutrients, can help prevent chronic disease, and help maintain a healty weight. The Rhode Island Nutrition Requirements requires schools to serve at least 90% whole grain products. To do this school menu planners can use a mix of 100% whole grain products and those that are labeled as "whole grain" which may actually contain as little as 51% whole grains. The Approved whole grain list helps menu planners pick from the products which have been reviewed and approved by the Department of Health.
The Healthier Beverages and Snacks Law requires schools only sell food and beverages that have been reviewed and approved for nutritional content (see list below). This includes items sold in vending machines, the cafeteria, the school store or anywhere on school property. The Rhode Island Nutrition Guidelines for School Vending and Ala Cart Foods states product criteria. The Initiative for Healthy Weight is available for help with the law or requirements.