The rise in metabolic diseases and other diseases in young people that were once only common in adults is troubling and, sadly, not a surprise, as researchers have found that 67% of calories consumed by both children and adolescents are from ultra-processed foods. The consumption of these highly processed foods can contribute to both poor locomotor skills and cardiovascular fitness. Another study found that the rate of young people with type 2 diabetes increased by 95% between 2001 and 2017. Our food system is not supporting our children’s health.
Fortunately, there is a solution, and it is found on our plates. Food is medicine, and what we eat can significantly improve our health. As students eat a significant portion of their daily calories at school, school meals are an incredibly effective tool for improving children’s nutrition and health. One recent study showed that schools were the best source of more nutritious food for children, better than restaurants and grocery stores. Some states, like California, are making significant financial investments in school food improvements to support children’s health while also solving the concurrent labor shortage in school kitchens.
The more we ensure that school meals are plant-powered, made from whole ingredients, and include very minimal ultra-processed food products, the more we provide our children’s healthy future. Eat REAL works with schools to improve not only our food system but also the health of all students. Eat REAL will shift over 1 billion dollars in school food purchasing power towards more regenerative and nutritious foods by 2025. On average, a school can remove up to 1,065 teaspoons of sugar per student per year under the guidance of our program – that’s about 50 12 oz milkshakes or 88 16 oz sodas. Without this sugar and with the incorporation of delicious, fresh, and local produce and whole foods, we see students who are actually excited about their school lunches!
If you are looking for an excellent cause to support this holiday season, you can help students across the country realize a healthier, more climate-friendly future by expanding Eat REAL’s reach with a tax-deductible donation. Thanks to a generous donor, your donation will be tripled this holiday season! Donate here.