New Study Found Healthier School Lunches Could Help Students and Lower Sodium
Many wonder how schools can offer healthier lunches with lower sodium levels, while still delivering good-tasting food. At Cargill Salt, we believe one solution is potassium chloride.
New research from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study found that results of the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act has helped make significant improvements in students’ overall health.1 The study uncovered that the Healthy Eating Index 2010 scores for school lunches improved from 58% to 82% in 2014-15 after the Act went into effect.2
The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act sought to improve the overall healthfulness of foods offered in the National School Lunch Program in the United States. In 2018, however, the USDA pushed back and eliminated some of the school meal standards established from this act, including reversing the required amounts of whole-grain-rich foods from 100% to 50% and delaying the first two phases of the sodium reduction guidelines, while removing the third phase altogether.3 According to the USDA, this roll-back of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act was made due to concerns of increased food waste, higher costs, and decreased student participation.
However, this new research also found that food waste levels at schools did not increase after the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act was implemented.1 Accompanying research also indicated that the cost to produce healthier meals was not significantly higher compared to meals with the lowest nutritional quality scores, and student participation levels in schools jumped 11% (from 50% to 61%) after the 2010 Act.3
Marlene Schwartz, a professor at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut told FoodNavigator-USA that she hopes food manufacturers would continue to create more healthy school lunch [options] regardless of state and federal legislation. She also notes that, “Schools should continue to demand it, even if not required.”3
When it comes to lowering sodium levels, that’s where Cargill Salt can step in. Many people wonder, how can schools offer healthier lunches with lower sodium levels, while still delivering good-tasting food that kids will eat? At Cargill Salt, we believe this complex problem can be resolved with a simple solution – potassium chloride. Similar to sodium chloride, potassium chloride is a naturally occurring mineral extracted from the ground or sea. When used in food manufacturing, potassium chloride can replace sodium chloride (table salt) and help reduce sodium by up to 50% in certain applications. By purchasing from vendors who utilize this healthful salt substitute, schools have the potential to provide a win-win scenario by significantly lowering sodium in food options without compromising taste.
Learn more about Cargill’s Potassium Pro® Potassium Chloride products and other sodium reduction offerings: https://www.cargill.com/food-beverage/na/sodium-reduction-solutions