Montgomery Co. Public Schools score poorly in nutrition survey
ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJLA) --- An online survey has found Montgomery County Public Schools is missing the mark in the menu department.
According to Niche.com, an independent school statistics website based in Pittsburgh, Pa., MCPS is above average in all categories with the exception of food and nutrition. The survey, which collected nearly 6,000 public votes, issued MCPS a C+ rating for food service. That places the highly regarded school system in the 32nd percentile of districts surveyed nationwide.
"If they're shooting for the stars academically, they should be shooting for the stars with their food," said Lindsey Parsons, executive director of Real Food for Kids - Montgomery. "Studies show kids who are eating healthy food, and are nourished, do better academically."
Across the DMV, the Niche.com survey awarded Alexandria City and Arlington County Public Schools' food service with 'A' marks. Loudoun County Public Schools earned a B+, Howard County Public Schools landed a B, Fairfax County Public Schools received a B-, and Prince George's County Public Schools got a C-.
Parsons is now urging MCPS to implement two major changes during the upcoming 2015-16 school year:
1.) Place a quality salad bar in every school lunchroom. Currently salad bars are only available in several secondary schools.
2.) Aggressively work toward eliminating all processed foods from the MCPS menu. While exact numbers are not known, Parsons contends the percentage is far too high.
"A lot of the students said they are tired of the repeating pizza, chicken patties and burgers, and [add] that it would be impossible for a vegetarian or vegan to find something to eat in MCPS," Parsons remarked.
MCPS, however, said all of its meals meet USDA requirements and provide three-quarters of the nutrients that a student needs each day. Additionally, menus (100 percent free of trans-fatty foods) are planned by licensed registered dietitians and analyzed by computer software to ensure dietary goals are maintained. MCPS also asserts students must have at least half-a-cup of fruit and/or vegetables during both breakfast and lunch.
"I think a lot more can be done and there are people across the country doing it: Memphis, Tenn., Boulder, Colo., Cincinnati, Ohio, Public Schools, they're really making some big changes and starting from scratch. MCPS could do it too, on the same budget," Parsons concluded.
Montgomery County Niche.com Report Card:
Teachers --- A+
Student Culture & Diversity --- A+
Educational Outcomes --- A+
Academics --- A
Administration & Policies --- B+
Resources & Facilities --- B+
Extracurriculars --- B
Health & Safety --- B
Sports & Fitness --- B-
Food --- C+