What's Ahead for Sodium in American Schools?
Recently, the United States government rolled back programs that sought to make school meals more nutritious.
The debate surrounding nutritional standards of American school lunches seldom leaves the national spotlight. With nearly 31 million students relying on subsidized or free meals every day through the National School Lunch Program, accounting for up to 50% of their daily calorie intake, it’s no wonder families and nutritionists alike are adamant on continuing the conversation surrounding healthier school meals.1
Recently, the United States government rolled back programs that sought to make school meals more nutritious.2 This change eased up rules that mandated schools exclusively offer whole-grain pastas and breads, nonfat unflavored milk, and established sodium reduction guidelines. Specifically, the decision to alter the three-step sodium reduction plan was met with significant criticism from health and nutrition experts. 2, 3 Instead, the newest mandate delays the deadline for achieving the second sodium reduction target, and removes the third phase altogether. 2, 3
According to the American Heart Association, most kids get 30% of their daily sodium at lunch, and though they only need 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day, they often consume much more.4 Reducing sodium can be challenging when higher sodium foods are often served in school meals in the form of burgers, corn dogs, or tater tots.1,4 However, simply lowering sodium levels and removing the unhealthy foods that kids enjoy have caused issues, as well as creating larger amounts of food waste and hungrier students who aren’t inclined to switching to the healthier options.1,2,3 Many studies have shown that kids who consume complete, well-balanced meals can be more successful at school. 1 A healthy meal translates into better academic performance, fewer behavioral issues, improved concentration and memory, and of course, better overall health.1
This begs the question… 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