Eggs Belong in Schools

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Featured article in the Spring 2017 Issue of Nutrition Close-Up; written by Allison Pigatto, MS, RD, LDN

 

As the newest member of the ENC team, I am EGG-static about the work I get to be part of! My background is in school nutrition, a field that has undergone considerable change since the introduction of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010.1 This legislation, which included updated requirements for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), aimed to align the meals served in schools with those recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs).

As of 2012, 31 million students were served lunch each day through funding provided by NSLP.2 These meals met strict nutrition guidelines requiring fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and limited calories, sodium and saturated fat. Despite criticism around certain aspects of NSLP, it is undeniable that students today have better access to foods recommended in the DGAs than ever before.

However, as the 2015 DGAs shifted to focus on overall healthy meal patterns,3 holes in the current school nutrition standards also became apparent. Many school districts have moved away from scratch cooking due to the complexity of the regulations around recipe development. And less nutritious foods – such as mozzarella sticks, cheeseburgers and hot dogs – have been reformulated to meet the nutrient restrictions. While the technical guidelines are being met, many students and teachers do not view the meals they’re being served as healthy.

In the coming years, I hope to see more whole, nutrient-dense foods – like eggs – offered in cafeterias. I think eggs are a great option for schools because they are nutritious, affordable and simple to prepare. Additionally, they contain nutrients that are important for cognitive development, such as lutein and choline, and can fit into an overall healthy meal pattern.4 At ENC, I hope to help eggs find their way to the lunch line.

 

 

REFERENCES
1. Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. https://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/healthyhunger-free-kids-act
2. National School Lunch Program Fact Sheet. https://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/ NSLPFactSheet.pdf
3. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/
4. Nutrients in Eggs. Egg Nutrition Center. http://www.eggnutritioncenter.org/topics/ nutrients-in-eggs/