Letting kids test healthy lunches

A Massachusetts program that lets schoolchildren try healthy lunches is helping boost the amount of vegetables that kids eat every week, according to experts at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Under Project Bread’s Chefs in Schools program, participating chefs work temporarily in Massachusetts schools to help cafeteria workers develop healthy recipes that kids like.

A December 21, 2018 WBUR story described how the program is working at Parthum Elementary School in Lawrence. Kids there recently taste-tested Korean chicken tacos that included vegetable slaw with picked red onions—and most liked them.

Part of the impetus for the Chefs in Schools program came from stricter federal nutrition standards regarding school lunches that were established in 2010. “Thanks to a lot of efforts from a lot of people in Washington we raised the bar,” Eric Rimm, professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard Chan School, told WBUR.

The WBUR article cited a 2012 study co-authored by Rimm and led by Harvard Chan School’s Juliana Cohen that found that children who went to a school participating in the Chefs in Schools program ate two more servings of vegetables each week than children who ate standard school lunches.

Rimm and Cohen, adjunct assistant professor of nutrition, both said that the USDA’s recent relaxation of some regulations regarding school lunches could stall progress in having kids eat healthier.

Listen to or read the WBUR story: ‘Kids Are Brutally Honest’: Program Lets Students Taste Test Healthy, Chef-Made Lunches

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Chef in school kitchen boosts healthy eating (Harvard Chan School feature)