New York City Public Schools need balanced
menus - now
Our children deserve to be served the healthiest possible meals at school.
And we know that NYC Department of Education can do better.
Our children are eating too much meat and eggs, too many over-processed products, and not enough fruits and vegetables. This kind of imbalanced diet contributes to 678,000 deaths in the US annually and causes 1 in 3 Americans to live with a preventable chronic illness.
And because food environment is the primary influence of food choice - especially in schools where the options are pre-decided for students, for up to 2 meals a day - the NYC Department of Education has a responsibility to create the healthiest possible menus for our children.
Nutrition science is clear. NYC Department of Education can and must make these common sense changes to their menus.
That's why our coalition of concerned parents, students, and community members is asking CMS leadership to commit to reducing the amount of disease-promoting foods on their menus and replace them with the things we know make kids grow strong and healthy: fresh fruits and vegetables, lean plant proteins, and whole grains.
79% of children, 86% of adolescents and 87% of adults in NYC don't eat the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables
Over 2 million NYC adults live with diabetes—the 5th largest cause of death—and rates of this diet-related preventable disease continue to climb
Cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death in NYC, causing more than 25,000 deaths and more than 130,000 hospitalizations each year
6 of the top 10 leading causes of death in NYC are diet-related and therefore preventable diseases
Eliminate processed meats like hot dogs, pepperoni pizza, sausage and egg sandwiches, and ultra-processed foods like chicken nuggets and fish sticks
Reduce the amount of disease-promoting foods high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and sodium like meat, egg, dairy, and other processed products
Replace unhealthy menu items with foods rich in nutrients and high in fiber like fruits, vegetables, diverse plant proteins, and whole grains
New York City is already suffering the consequences of imbalanced menus.
The problem: NYC school menus don't reflect a balanced diet.
The leading causes of preventable disease, chronic illness, and premature death in the United States are all related to diet and poor nutrition—diseases like diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and even some cancers. Children born today have a shorter predicted life expectancy than their parents as a result of skyrocketing diet-related diseases. We must do better for our children—but the time to act is now.
Imbalanced menus make it harder for students to get the nutrients they need to learn, grow, and excel.
Independent public health organization Balanced reviewed the healthfulness of NYC schools menus and gave it a "C" grade—a far cry from what its students deserve, with huge consequences for our children's health. In their analysis, Balanced found that the NYC Department of Education served:
Too many products high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and sodium like meats, eggs, and full fat dairy products
Too many ultra-processed foods made with disease-promoting refined grains and processed meats
Too few health-promoting fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes