Better Nutrition

DESPITE SOME mild stomach growlings, it appears the national school lunch program is working.

Nearly 100,000 schools originally took part in the federally subsidized program. Out of that number, just 524 have dropped out. Such an acceptance rate speaks volumes of the program’s worth.

For those that fell to the wayside, the majority did so because school officials said related costs were too expensive. The other reason was obvious, the taste was not up to the liking of students and staff.

But when something of this magnitude is out into motion, there will always be dissenters. But when less than 1 percent of 100,000 schools drop out, the program must be considered a success.

The government introduced new standards for healthier foods last year. They were designed to help curb the rising childhood obesity levels.

The new guidelines cap the amount of calories and salt intake while also phasing in more whole grains. Amazingly, 80 percent of schools have already met the requirements. We hope that is a number that continues to grow while the waistlines of students do not.

The health benefits of the program are obvious and needed. Child obesity is out of control in this nation. This program is a big step in the right direction

Moreover, schools that participate are eligible for the federal dollars that reimburse them for free and low-cost meals served to low-income students. Those 524 that have dropped out forfeit their funding privileges.

A recent study revealed that 94 percent of the more than 3,300 officials surveyed said they expect to be able to meet all of the requirements by the end of this school year. That is a noteworthy achievement.

While school cafeterias may not be serving meals that are as tasty as those in the past, the accompanying health benefits are a sweet dessert.