New Brunswick

Most school menus get failing grade from doctors, dietitians

More than half of school menus analyzed by doctors and dietitians in New Brunswick don't meet provincial nutritional guidelines.

More than half of school menus analyzed by group don't meet provincial nutritional guidelines

More than half of school menus analyzed by doctors and dietitians in New Brunswick don't meet provincial nutritional guidelines.

The Make Menus Matter project of the New Brunswick Medical Society and New Brunswick Dietitians in Action analyzed more than 100 school menus from around the province, representing 41 per cent of the province's schools.

Of those examined, 27 per cent met provincial nutritional guidelines and 54 per cent did not. It was not clear whether the other 19 per cent of the menus met guidelines.

In 2005, the New Brunswick government brought in policies to remove food with low nutritional value from school vending machines, cafeterias and fundraisers. (CBC)
Dr. Camille Haddad, the president of the New Brunswick Medical Society, said it was "very eye-opening" to see the types of food that was being served to students.

Vanessa Yurchesyn, the co-chair of New Brunswick Dietitians in Action, said there were some types of food that caused menus to be handed a failing grade.

"There were many menus who would have met guidelines were it not for items such as burgers, pizza or cookies being available every day," she said. 

Provincial policy dictates those items can only be served twice a week in school cafeterias.

The group of doctors and dietitians asked parents to send them the menu from their child's school.

They say those providing the food ranged from large corporations to non-profit organizations, local cafeteria staff and volunteer parent committees. Some cafeterias prepared food on site while others served items from fast food chains.

"We saw some really standout menus that focused on locally grown produce and whole grains," said Haddad.

Schools serving exceptional food will be listed in a Where to Eat guide that the group will release next week.

Students are also being invited to share a photo of their school lunch and share it with the medical society on social media tag it with #whatiate, with one student a day being awarded $50 for submitting their photo.

"With students sharing photos of their food, we hope to learn what they are actually eating as lunch," said Yurchesyn.

"This takes our work beyond menus and onto the plates themselves."


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