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The Physicians Committee



NEWS RELEASE August 20, 2003

School Lunches Still Feeding Obesity Epidemic, Doctors Say

Annual Nutrition Report Card Awards Only One A; D.C. Public Schools Get an F

WASHINGTON—Children heading back to school in Detroit, Miami, and other large school districts will be getting school lunches that have dramatically improved over the last year, according to the latest School Lunch Report Card issued by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Other large districts, however, such as the District of Columbia, are failing to provide healthy meals that will help combat the current epidemic of childhood overweight and other diet-related health problems.

“With childhood obesity one of the nation’s most serious health concerns, kids need less junk food in the schools,” says Jen Keller, R.D., PCRM’s nutrition projects coordinator. “In Detroit, the school lunches went from an F in 2002 to an A this year, and that means those kids are getting fewer greasy chicken nuggets and more cholesterol-free, low-fat, fruits, vegetables, and vegetarian entrées. School districts such as Los Angeles have been slow to learn and need to follow Detroit’s lead if we are going to combat alarmingly high rates of childhood diabetes and incipient heart disease.”

PCRM’s nutrition department graded the nutritional quality of the elementary school lunches served in 18 of the largest U.S. school districts participating in the federally assisted National School Lunch Program. The program is operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Here are the results:

District

Location

Score

Grade

Group 1: Class Act

Detroit City School District

Detroit, Mich.

94%

A

Group 2: Solid Achievers

Miami-Dade County School District

Miami, Fla.

89%

B+

Gwinnett County Public School District

Lawrenceville, Ga.

88%

B+

Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District

Charlotte, N.C.

87%

B+

Fairfax County Public School District

Fairfax, Va.

86%

B

Pinellas County School District

Largo, Fla.

Broward County School District

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

85%

B

Hillsborough County School District

Tampa, Fla.

New York City Public School District

New York, N.Y.

81%

B-

Philadelphia City School District

Philadelphia, Pa.

80%

B-

Group 3: Passable Performers

Montgomery County Public School District

Rockville, Md.

78%

C+

Prince George's County Public School District

Upper Marlboro, Md.

Dallas Independent School District

Dallas, Texas

77%

C+

Palm Beach County School District

Riviera Beach, Fla.

76%

C

Los Angeles Unified School District

Los Angeles, Calif.

71%

C-

San Diego City Unified School District

San Diego, Calif.

70%

C-

Group 4: Failing Programs

Clark County School District

Las Vegas, Nevada

59%

F

District of Columbia Public Schools

Washington, D.C.

46%

F

 

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.



Media Contact:
Jeanne S. McVey
202-527-7316
jeannem@pcrm.org

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