New agreements benefit healthy school meals

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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MIAMI – Leading food manufacturers, group purchasing organizations and technology companies have been brought together by a new, multi-industry voluntary agreement announced Jan. 21 by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The pact is designed to help America’s schools serve healthier meals at more affordable prices, according to the National Turkey Federation (NTF).

More than 30 million students throughout the US will have access to healthier school meals, including at least 14 million students who currently participate in the free and reduced lunch program, as a result of the agreement.

AdvancePierre Foods, Domino’s Pizza, JTM Food Group, McCain Foods USA, Rich Products Corporation, Schwan’s Food Service, Trident Seafoods, HPS, Premier healthcare alliance, Summa/Provista, Interflex, Dole Food Company Inc. and the National Turkey Federation have joined the effort to combat childhood obesity by agreeing to increase the availability of products that can lead to healthy schools meals. Signatories to these first-of-their-kind agreements brokered by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, have agreed to develop, market and competitively price products that will lead to healthier school meal options; streamline the ordering process; and make identifying healthy options easier.

"With students consuming up to half of their daily calories at school, healthy school meals are key to winning the fight against childhood obesity," said former president Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation. "The Alliance is now focusing on helping provide more nutritious meal options to more than 30 million school children nationwide."

Participating have pledged not to price healthy options out of reach of school cafeterias. Signatories will set prices for healthier items that meet the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s science-based standards for nutrition at prices no higher than less-healthy comparable products. They have also pledged to increase the sales of compliant products by to least 50% of their entire school sales within five years.

Manufacturers have also committed to aggressively promote products that align with the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program standards and will help schools meet or exceed the requirements currently being finalized by the US Department of Agriculture.

Product commitments fall in at least one of the following categories within the Alliance’s science-based guidelines for school foods:

  • Lean protein products, such as lean red meat, skinless poultry, lean deli meats, fat-free or low-fat cheese, beans, and tofu.
  • Low-fat lunch entrées with reduced total fat, saturated fat and sodium levels.
  • Whole-grain products, such as bread, pasta and pizza crust.
  • Fresh, canned or frozen fruit.
  • Non-fried vegetables.
  • Zero trans fat cooking oils.

Dole Food Company Inc. and the National Turkey Federation have agreed to leverage their tools and resources to support schools in their implementation of this new approach to school meals. 

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