CDC: School Lunches Now Healthier

Remember when they served Salisbury steak, French fries, and soda for lunch at school?

In general, most school lunches are much healthier than “back in the day,” according to the latest data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The nutritional profile of meals in the nation’s public schools have improved substantially since higher government standards went into effect in 2012. 

Nearly 80 percent of schools offered two or more servings of vegetables per meal in 2014, up from 62 percent in 2000. Two or more fruits were offered “in about 78 percent of schools, up from 68 percent in 2000,” the CDC reported. The CDC also found almost all schools were offering whole grains at breakfast and lunch, too—97.2 percent and 94.4 percent, respectively—while nearly one-third of schools (30.5 percent) were offering self-serve salad bars.

Healthier school lunches are expected to help make a dent in the growing obesity rate among older children. “School meals are healthier now than ever before. We’ve made real progress, but there is much more to do,” says CDC Director Tom Frieden. 

a hand holding coins with a plant growing from the middle.State Supreme Courts to Rule on Funding Lawsuits

Financial issues are an ever-present concern for school districts, and state courts are often asked to step in and make an important ruling. Now seems like such a time in at least two states.

The Kansas Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether to allow a Johnson County school district to intervene in a long-running lawsuit over school finance. The district asserts that “an alliance of school districts suing the state over the fairness of school funding doesn’t represent the interests of students in USD 512.”

Meanwhile, the Texas Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the state’s ongoing school finance case in which some 600 districts across the state have sued, alleging that the “current funding system is unfair and inadequate.” This is the seventh time in recent decades that the court has been called on to settle a legal challenge over the way Texas funds the education of millions of children.

Florida Leads the Way on Concussion Issue

It’s been a trouble spot for the National Football League and to some extent, the National Collegiate Athletic Association. But experts agree that being proactive about concussions, and both their short- and long-term effects on student athletes, must begin in secondary school, if not earlier.

Now, Florida is taking action to deal with this significant issue. The Florida High School Athletic Association passed a new rule this summer requiring all athletes to watch a video about concussions and sign a form saying they understand concussion risks. This makes Florida schools the first in the nation to take this step, and football programs are already dealing with the extra paperwork.

The association says the idea is to “educate as many people as possible, so that athletes—not just coaches—can recognize concussion symptoms in other players.”

Cyberbullying: An App for Early Detection?

Researchers at Clemson University are developing an app that could alert parents and school administrators to signs of cyberbullying as it starts. 

The research is being funded by a $240,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. Researchers will scour online communications for key words and patterns that indicate cyberbullying. When the app detects potential bullying, it will send an alert to the victim’s parent, a school administrator, and the identified bully.

There has been a significant increase in online bullying in recent years, and researchers hope to address this issue, especially as it applies to school-aged children.