The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) evaluated surveys completed by food service directors from 20 school districts in the United States. Many are among the 100-largest districts. School districts from all regions of the country participated: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and West.
PCRM relied on school districts to accurately complete the survey and provide valid information about their menus and nutrition education programs, and a team of PCRM dietitians worked to verify this information.
For further information on the review process, criteria, and individual school information please visit www.healthyschoollunches.org/reports. Northern Nevada and California are included in the survey.
2008 School Lunch Report Card
School District: Montgomery County Public Schools (Md.) *Serves a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and healthful vegetarian foods and encourages children to make healthful choices.
School District: Pinellas County Schools (Fla.) * Pinellas’ high score reflects its varied menu, which boasts many healthful low-fat vegetarian entrées, including an egg-free and dairy-free farmer’s salad, a veggie burger, and pasta with marinara sauce.
School District: Omaha Public Schools (Neb.) * The district raised its school lunch score by 30 points from last year by making significant changes to its meal choices.
School District: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (N.C.) * The district’s nutrition initiatives include adding information on healthy plant foods and other nutrition tips to each month’s menu and hanging cafeteria banners promoting the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables.
School District: Fairfax County Public Schools (Va.) * In addition to complying with USDA standards, Fairfax County has made an effort to eliminate trans fat from all items served.
School District: Broward County Public Schools (Fla.) * Pre-packed salads are offered daily, along with rotating vegetables including green beans and baby carrots. Broward raised its grade to an A by serving a nondairy beverage free of cost.
School District: Santa Ana Unified School District (Calif.) * The district offers information about the benefits of fruits and vegetables and other nutrition education in both English and Spanish. The food service department features a fruit or vegetable in classrooms monthly and offers taste-testing.
School District: Prince William County Public Schools (Va.) * Students can choose from several low-fat vegetable side dishes daily; choices include red beans and rice and raw vegetables.
School District: San Diego Unified School District (Calif.) * The department collaborates with schools that have gardens to highlight and promote them, and the district’s executive chef visits schools to teach students how to prepare healthful dishes.
School District: Volusia County Schools (Fla.) * Although Volusia County Schools does meet USDA nutrition requirements on fat and saturated fat, it could improve its menu by including more healthful vegetarian options in place of some of the school lunch staples such as chicken nuggets, corn dogs, and chicken “fryz.”
School District: Anchorage School District (Alaska) * Anchorage could improve its score by replacing some unhealthful premade items such as baked teriyaki beef nuggets and baked popcorn chicken with zero-cholesterol, low-fat vegetarian options and offering these healthful dishes on the menu.
School District: Oakland Unified School District (Calif.) * The district operates a Harvest of the Month education program that highlights seasonal fruits and vegetables at 20 schools.
School District: San Francisco Unified School District (Calif.) * The 75th-largest school district and one of the largest school districts in California, San Francisco lost points because of its lack of healthful vegetarian entrées.
School District: Sacramento City Unified School District (Calif.) * Sacramento could improve its grade by instituting more nutrition education programs and by regularly offering healthful vegetarian options and including them on the menu for students.
School District: Washoe County School District (Nev.) * Washoe County School District, the 57th-largest in the country, serves the Reno/Sparks and Lake Tahoe region of Nevada. The lunch menus tend to be heavy in high-fat, high-cholesterol entrées. Cheeseburgers and pizza are offered every day. Washoe does serve healthful vegetarian options such as a veggie wrap and veggie rice bowl at least once a week.
School District: Garland Independent School District (Texas) * On a positive note, vegetable side dishes are usually steamed, and the district is making an effort to reduce the number of fried foods served.
School District: Anamoose Public School (N.D.) * Lunch offerings are very limited, with only one main entrée served per day. Healthful vegetarian entrée options are rare, and the district typically dishes up high-fat items such as pepperoni pizza, grilled brats, hotdogs, and cheeseburgers.
School District: Buffalo City Schools (N.Y.) * The district’s elementary school lunch menus are packed with meatball subs, Egg McMuffin Sandwiches, and other high-fat items.
School District: Caddo Public Schools District (La.) * Caddo Public Schools District could boost its grade by expanding its menu options and engaging in nutrition outreach programs.
School District: East Baton Rouge Parish Schools (La.) * School lunches would benefit from including more healthful entrées such as veggie tacos or a vegetarian burger instead of such current high-fat menu items as beefy tacos, hot dogs, fish strips, hamburgers, and cheeseburgers.