Is Scratch-Cooking a Cost-Effective Way to Prepare Healthy School Meals with U.S. Department of Agriculture Foods?
This paper examines whether school lunch entrees made in a district from basic or raw U.S. Department of Agriculture Foods ingredients can be healthier and/or less expensive to prepare than those sent to external processers. Information on the nutritional content and cost to prepare entrees was gathered through interviews with school food service personnel and school food service records from a convenience sample of 10 school districts in California. The districts studied employed varying degrees of scratch-cooking and were diverse in terms of geographic location and the sociodemographic characteristics of the student body. All elementary school lunch entrees that included at least one USDA Foods ingredient offered during October 2010 were included in the sample (n=146 distinct entrees). Investigators found that there was no significant relationship between the total costs and level of scratch-cooking. Entrees with the highest level of scratch-cooking had significantly lower food costs and higher labor costs, with no significant difference in total costs compared with entrees with no scratch-cooking.
It is important to examine how the national school meal programs, which feed roughly half the country’s school-age population every school day, can contribute to preventing childhood obesity. Although the USDA’s Child Nutrition Commodity Program offers many nutritious options to school districts, previous research has shown that schools primarily order … More
The marketing of unhealthy foods to children and youth is a major public health concern. Children in the United States grow up surrounded by food and beverage marketing, which primarily promotes products with excessive amounts of added sugar, salt, and fat, and inadequate amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. … More
Child care providers are a vital part of healthy, thriving communities. Over half of children between the ages of zero and five spend significant time in non-parental child care. These early years are critical for healthy brain development and establishing the habits that last a lifetime. Laws and policies shape … More