Eight Years of Change


In 2010, first lady Michelle Obama enacted the Healthy, Hunger-Free Act, which authorized funding for federal school meals and child nutrition programs, increasing access to healthy foods.

The program allows schools to implement healthy food options during lunch periods. Students at Chagrin have learned what is healthy and what is not in their health class. However, being able to distinguish that as a student can be difficult.

Marti Jacobson, the district food service supervisor for Chagrin Falls weighed in on how school lunches have changed since Michelle Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Act in 2010.

“Students appear to still like the same foods since the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids act was implemented. We offer basically the same foods, they just have different ingredients.  For example, we still sell cookies and Big Daddy’s pizza like we did before but now they contain some whole grain flour and less fat,” Jacobson said.

Food that was once considered unhealthy, can now be considered a more healthy option.

“All of our food is whole grain, baked, not fried, and lower in sodium, fat, and calories. We don’t add a lot of oil or other fats to the food. You could incorporate everything we offer, even the pizza and chicken sandwiches and fries, into a healthy diet,” she said.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Act’s goal was to ultimately improve nutrition and focus on reducing childhood obesity in schools. Today, students across the U.S. statistically make healthier choices at school.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, kids now eat 16 percent more vegetables and 23 percent more fruit at lunch

“I think one of the hardest parts of implementing the Act was teaching students that they need to take a fruit or vegetable with their lunch to make it a complete meal,” said Jacobson.

Overall, Jacobson said that students in the district handled the changes fairly well.

“The Act was passed in 2010, but we didn’t have to start implementing the changes in schools until the 2013-14 school year. Since we knew in advance the changes were coming, we started to make the changes slowly over a couple of years instead of having everything change at once. It was difficult in the beginning to design menus that fit within the calorie, fat, and sodium ranges and meal patterns that lunches have to meet now,” said Jacobson.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that over 90 percent of schools report that they are successfully meeting the updated nutrition standards. Students across the country are experiencing a healthier school environment with the more nutritious option

Students at Chagrin are fortunate to have healthy and nutritious food options for lunch.

CFHS junior Molly Nachtwey said, “I remember when the school lunches changed back in 2014. Now thinking about it, I think I do eat healthier as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Act when I’m at school.”

The Chagrin Falls School District offers nutritional food choices courtesy of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Act, and a great cafeteria staff.

“I love the Bosco sticks and every once in a while I’ll have a cookie. You can’t go wrong with a cookie,” said Nachtwey.

Now, students across the U.S. eat healthier school lunches but once in a while, it’s nice to treat yourself.