2 Area School System Menus Among Top 10

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has annual report cards on lunch menus for 22 of the largest U.S. school systems, including Fairfax and Montgomery counties. Here are the grades for 2006-07:

* Fairfax County, the 13th-largest system in the country, received an A-, placing third.

The system was praised for offering vegan options, such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, veggie patties and pasta with marinara sauce.

There is brown rice in addition to whole-grain pizza crust and breads. All sides are low in fat and offer variety, including fresh broccoli, baby carrots and kiwi and orange quarters.

A color-coded system guides children in picking healthy foods.

Fairfax celebrates its diversity with a monthly international menu.

The system's Energy Zone Web site, which has averaged 10,600 hits a month, allows parents and students to calculate the nutrition of the foods they eat and compare it with the Virginia Governor's Standards for School Nutrition.

* Montgomery County, the 17th-largest school system in the country, received a B+, ranking sixth.

The system was praised for increasing the number of fresh fruits and low-fat vegetable side dishes on its menu. It offers peanut butter and jelly/grilled cheese sandwiches as the daily vegetarian and/or vegan options. Three times a week, the system will highlight an additional vegetarian and/or vegan meal. Bottled water and juice are offered.

-- Lori Aratani

To see the report cards, go to http://www.healthyschoollunches.org/reports/index.html.

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