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New Brunswick's doctors, dietitians calling for school menu check-up

New Brunswick’s doctors and dietitians are asking parents, teachers, and education administrators to take a closer look at what their school cafeterias are serving. As part of the New Brunswick Medical Society’s “Care First” health plan, parents are asked to share their school menus to see how much food is really healthy.

The initiative, known as “Make Menus Matter,” will draw awareness to the wide variety found in school menus across the province. Some schools are only serving healthy foods – but many still serve foods that have been essentially banned from schools under provincial policy.  

“Overwhelming evidence shows that healthy habits are established in childhood,” said Dr. Lynn Hansen, President of the New Brunswick Medical Society. “We should be doing everything we can to ensure that children have access to the best food available.”

"When children and adolescents have access to nutritious foods at school, this will allow for the development of life-long healthy eating habits,” explained Vanessa MacLellan, RD, co-chair of NB Dietitians in Action. “Dietitians recognize that it takes a team approach to achieve this."

The initiative is a part of the Medical Society’s “Care First” plan, released at the end of September. The plan offers strategies for improving New Brunswick’s health care system, many of which emphasize preventative medicine and the patient’s role in managing their own health.

As part of the initiative, parents are invited to send a copy of their child’s school menu to the New Brunswick Medical Society. We will remove all identifying child and school-related information. Parents can also share a photo of the menu on the Care First Facebook page. In two weeks, a class from a school whose menu was submitted will be randomly chosen to receive a healthy lunch brought in by dietitians and doctors. One participating parent will also receive a prize valued at $200 to help their children to live a healthier, active lifestyle.

The push for healthier school menus has roots in the Department of Education’s Policy 711, which bans the sale of foods with minimum nutritional value in cafeterias, vending machines and fundraisers.

“School cafeterias should be an extension of the classroom – teaching kids healthy eating habits they’ll stick with for life,” said Dr. Hansen.

Media contact:

Aleisha Bosch
Communications Officer
New Brunswick Medical Society
(506)458-8860 ext. 633
abosch@nbms.nb.ca

Founded in 1867, the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) is the professional association representing all physicians in New Brunswick. It is a provincial division of the Canadian Medical Association. Its twin goals are to represent and serve physicians, and advocate for the health of New Brunswickers. Over a hundred New Brunswick doctors sit on our Board and Committees, representing the 1600 doctors in the province.

The New Brunswick Dietitians in Action (a network of Dietitians of Canada) is a newly formed group of dietitians working together to promote and foster a healthy food culture in New Brunswick. The purpose of this group is to act as a voice for the over 300 dietitians in New Brunswick and to increase the capacity of New Brunswickers to make healthy eating choices.