Healthy Meals for Children Act

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The Healthy Meals for Children Act was signed into public law on May 29th 1996 by President Clinton. The Public Law 104-149, Healthy Meals for Children Act, establishes that local school’s meal fulfill the nutrition standards stipulated by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and provides flexibility to school meal planners. [1] The law authorizes schools to apply any four of the specific menu planning system options which are Nutrient Standard Menu Planning (NuMenus), Assisted NuMenus, Traditional Food-Based system, and Enhanced Food-Based system. 2] The NuMenus utilizes a computerized nutritional analysis to formulate a weekly meal ensuring the Dietary Guidelines are implemented. Under the Assisted NuMenus system, the nutritional menu is regulated and analyzed by outside contractors which use menu planning guidelines from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). The Traditional Food-Based system’s menu provides minimum quantities of meat or alternative substitutes, fruits, vegetables, grain rich foods like bread, and milk.

Finally, the Enhanced Food-Based system is founded upon the Traditional Food-Based system but implements increased quantity of fruits, vegetables, and grain rich foods in their menu. [1] The Healthy Meals for Children Act is a modification of the National School Lunch Act; it allows schools to administer a more realistic approach to meet the school’s dietary menu and utilizes the 1994-1995 school nutrition meal system. [3] A systematic policy action was executed in a timely manner to successfully pass the Healthy Meals for Children Act.

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A major policy action occurred on July 19th, 1995 when the Act was introduced to the House of Representatives by the Economic and Educational Opportunities committee. By May 14th, 1996, the Act was amended, agreed upon, and passed by the House through a voice vote. [3] On May 15th, 1996 the Act was received by the Senate and was read twice. The Senate passed the Act on May 16th, 1996 without any modifications and through a unanimous consent. It was cleared for the White House and presented to the President on May 22 1996.

By May 29th, 1996 the Healthy Meals for Children Act was signed by President Clinton and became public law 104-149. [3] The main objective of the Healthy Meals for Children Act is to ensure school lunch and breakfast meals implement the federal dietary guidelines yet increases the opinions schools can utilize to meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. [1] The major concentration of the Healthy Meals for Children Act is to reduce a student’s saturated fat calorie intake, and provide adequate amounts of protein, iron, calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin A. 4] Furthermore, the meals distributed to students must incorporate various cultural and religious diet regulations while being rich in nutrients essential for a children’s development and growth. The meals should consist of a vast variety of foods appealing to a child yet ensure healthy eating habits. [4] In order to be self financeable, the school meals should be priced directly proportionate to the cost of preparing and attaining the food. [4] Based on the 1995 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the variety of the food provided is vital to ensure the essential nutrients are consumed.

The lunches and breakfast meals offered in schools must implement the Food Guide Pyramid. The foundation of a student’s meals and should consists of different food groups such as fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products, protein-rich plants and seeds, eggs, fish, and lean meat. [5] In addition, growing children require higher amounts of calcium and iron so vitamin fortified foods might be essential coupled with low-fat foods and beverages. [5] The Guideline also emphases on students getting most of their daily calories from 6-11 serving of grain products, 3-5 serving of vegetables, and 2-4 servings of fruits. 5] Furthermore, school meals should limit their usage of high-fat foods; a student should not consume more than 30 percent of their required daily calorie intake from fat and no more than 10 percent of the calories from saturated fat. [5] A low cholesterol diet is necessary to maintain a healthy weight and should never exceed a daily consumption of 300mg. [5] Additionally, the daily required value for sodium is 2,400mg. A typical American diet consists of more salt than is needed; sodium is one of the factors that influence blood pressure, therefore, a diet moderate in salt and sodium is vital to maintaining a healthy life-style. 5] The Dietary Guidelines for Americans stresses the importance of maintain a healthy body weight index. Physical activity is imperative in ensuring healthy weight; therefore, a child should get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily and should avoid excessive snacking. [5] Bases on present statically evidence, one in three American children is overweight and childhood obesity is the number one health concern in the United States. Childhood obesity is the major reason for the onset of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and increased levels of blood cholesterol. 6] Besides the direct health problems correlated with childhood obesity, there are numerous negative psychological consequences along with health complications later on during adult hood. [6] In order to overcome the obesity epidemic, children should consume meals with moderate amounts of sugars and use sugar sparingly in their beverages. [5] The Healthy Meals for Children Act helps motivate children to make healthy food choices and provides school food professionals the tools needed to distribute healthy school meals.

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has made intense progress to offer a vast variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to schools. [7] The Healthy Meals for Children Act is in conformity with the National School Lunch Program which offers 94,000 public and non-profitable schools federally supported meal programs. It supplies reduced or free nutritious meals to 26 million students daily. [7] Based on the 2005 fiscal year, the total cost of the meal program was $7. 9 billion and was successful in providing a variety of foods purchased by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to schools.

The entitlement foods selected by the schools consisted of fresh, canned, and frozen fruits and vegetables; meats; grain products; flour; peanut products; oil; and fruit juices. [7] Works Cited: [1] Richardson, Joe. Education and Public Welfare Division. Child Nutrition Issues in the 105th Congress. , 1998. Web. 21 Apr 2011. [2] Degroat, Ann. United States. Guidelines for Implementing Public Law 104-149, the Healthy Meals for Children Act. , 1996. Web. 21 Apr 2011. [3] Bill Summary and Status 104th Congress (1995-1996). , 1996. Web. 21 Apr 2011. 4] Tenenbaum, Inez. “South Carolina Department of Education. ” South Carolina Department of Education (2001): 44-45. Web. 21 Apr 2011. [5] Stallings, Virginia, and Christine Taylor. “Nutrition Standards and Meals Requirements for National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs: Phase I. Proposed Approach for Recommending Revisions. ” (2005): n. pag. Web. 22 Apr 2011. [6] “Overweight in Children. ” American Heart Association (2011): n. pag. Web. 22 Apr 2011. [7] “Program Information – Overview of NSLP . ” Nebraska Department of Education (2005): n. pag. Web. 22 Apr 2011


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