Word has been spreading fast over the past few years over about the quality of school lunches that are being served to children in the United States. From local television programs to Hollywood documentaries by the likes of Michael Moore, increasing light is being shed on the unsatisfactory quality of these lunches. These public school lunches in the United States are ridiculed for being unhealthy and unappetizing. In fact, two-thirds or around 67% of students in middle school who eat school lunches on a regular basis are obese or overweight.
Taking note of these appalling numbers, the New York City Public School System has taken a step towards making public school lunches significantly more healthy. Kellogg, the giant cereal corporation, has been supplying the schools of New York City with cereal for years. However, they are now being replaced by a smaller California brand as the cereal choice for NYC public schools. Back to the Roots is a small company that focuses on producing healthier cereals that have proven to be lower in sodium and sugar while being higher in whole grain than their Kellogg counterparts.
Following a taste-test by students, the public schools of New York City decided to go with this company instead of remaining with Kellogg. Although this change only impacts a small portion of the overall lunch menu, it is a big step in the direction of providing healthier school lunches for children. New York represents the largest school system within the United States. If any precedent is to be set by a public school system, New York City would be the place to originate the idea and catalyst.
With millions of children across the United States relying upon school lunches, it is the responsibility of the school systems to provide students with meals that are nutritious and healthy. When instead the meals are high in saturated fats and sugars, this is adding yet another problem to the growing obesity issue in the United States. This recent move by New York City is a great push towards introducing a healthier alternative to the current types of meals served in school.
Kellogg has been in the cereal making business for decades. Breakfast cereals have always been a mainstay in the American diet, even though they are heavily laced with sugar. Kids and parents buy Kellogg, General Mills, and Post products because they are quick alternatives to fixing a healthy meal in the morning. Even the New York public school system provided Kellogg and other conventional cereals on their free lunch menu, but New York has finally been struck with the less sugar, less sodium bug. Kellogg products are being replaced by Back to the Roots products, according to an article published by the New York Times.
Back to the Roots is an Oakland-based cereal maker that offers low sugar, low sodium, and a higher concentration of whole grains in their products. The company has been trying to get New York City public schools on their customer list for more than a year. When Kellogg discontinued two Kashi products from the public school menu, the school system decided to replace them with Back to the Roots cereal. The reason was obvious. Back to the Roots cereals contain organic ingredients, and they have more nutritional value. More than 245,000 students in New York public schools now have a choice. There are two Back to the Roots nutritional cereals on the menu along with cereals from Post, Kellogg, and General Mills.
The difference between one Back to the Roots cereal called Cinnamon Clusters and Kellogg Frosted Mini-Wheats is eye-opening. Cinnamon Clusters have half the sugar and four-fifths as many calories. It is certified organic and has no preservatives or added vitamins. The public school system in New York is under pressure to reduce costs as well as add natural products to the menu and Back to the Roots products help achieve that goal.
Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act seven years ago. The New York City school system switch to Back to the Roots is the first significant change in the school meal program since then. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids law updated nutritional guidelines that school districts must meet in order to qualify for federal subsidies. Schools are also required to ban candy, soda, and other junk food from their menus.