Kids eat right.

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists: Helping Students Eat Right

Reviewed by Vicki Shanta Retelny, RDN, LDN
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Looking for someone who will look out for your kid's health during the school day? Look no further than the registered dietitian nutritionist, or RDN. As foodservice directors and nutrition specialists, RDNs across the country are doing great things to ensure kids eat healthful meals at school. Although revised meal standards, set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, went into effect July 1, 2012 requiring more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and less sodium, school based RDNs were already employing innovative techniques (from salad and taco bars to fruit-and-yogurt parfaits) to entice kids to eat right. Plus, the USDA added an additional requirement in May, 2017 for students to have the option of flavored milk to ensure that students receive nutrients provided by milk.

Look to an RDN for Expertise

RDNs are crucial to school meal programs because they have the nutrition expertise and skills to create a healthy food climate in the cafeteria that engages students not only in eating healthfully, but also in developing healthy behaviors.

Recipe development, nutrition education and wellness coordination are just a few of the responsibilities RDNs may oversee in schools.

Healthier Menu Options

Thousands of schools purchase produce from local farmers and have school gardens. When kids learn about how their food is grown, they’re more likely to try new foods.

Providing a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables every day exposes children to different colors, textures and flavors. Children enjoy choosing their own vegetables, such as with salad bars and taco bars, which increases the chances that they’ll eat them.

Kid favorites such as chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers don’t have to go away. Instead, they can be made with more nutritious ingredients including whole-grains and cheese with lower fat and sodium.