Issues Raised concerning the Report, "The National School Lunch Program:

Is It Working?"

PAD-78-43: Published: Nov 1, 1977. Publicly Released: Nov 1, 1977.

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The following concerns were expressed about a recent GAO report, "The National School Lunch Program--Is It Working?": the cost of evaluating the school lunch program's health impact, overemphasis on the lack of mandatory requirements for nutrition teaching, obesity resulting from the Type A diet, and the complications arising from an alternative meal standard. The Congress would be ill-advised to presume that the program is performing as intended. While the program's Type A pattern is designed for 10- to 12-year old children, it is fed to all children regardless of age or nutritional need. The Department of Agriculture, assisted by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), could design an evaluation of the program's health impact that would be relatively inexpensive. HEW already has the ability to evaluate nutritional status, and the techniques for isolating the effects of the school lunch from external influences are well established. Legislation prohibits the program from imposing mandatory requirements for nutrition teaching. The report did not state that the program causes obesity, but it did express concern for the program's potential to increase the risk of adverse side effects. Changes in the Type A diet are needed, and the present standard is undergoing revision. The Secretary of Agriculture should prescribe meal regulations in terms of nutritional standards supplemented by alternative patterns conforming to those standards.

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