Seafood in College Lunches for Improved Diets and New Markets – Power Save

This weblog is a part of a sequence referred to as Fish-nomics , analyzing essential matters regarding seafood trade issues from an economist’s perspective. 

Picture courtesy of Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS.

In 2022 the USA Authorities Accountability Workplace (GAO) issued a report on seafood in class lunch packages. The report discovered that between 2014 and 2019, the USDA’s Nationwide College Lunch Program’s (NSLP) seafood purchases solely accounted for 1.5% of whole animal protein bought by this system. On common, the NSLP offered U.S. college students with solely 3 ounces of seafood per 12 months whereas the USDA’s personal Dietary Tips for Individuals suggest school-age youngsters devour 4-10 ounces of seafood per week relying on age.

Bettering entry to seafood for youngsters by means of the NSLP represents a chance to enhance scholar well being and enhance demand for U.S. produced seafood. Rising the proportion of NSLP purchases of animal protein from seafood to fifteen% would require the USDA to purchase 55.7 million extra kilos of U.S. produced seafood per 12 months.

The necessity for extra seafood in class lunches is highlighted by the truth that USDA knowledge indicated that the majority U.S. school-age youngsters don’t eat the really useful quantities prescribed by the Dietary Tips for Individuals. Seafood is a crucial supply of key vitamins, minerals, and nutritional vitamins together with omega-3 fatty acids, nutritional vitamins B12 and D, selenium, zinc, and iodine. Research concerning these vitamins, minerals, and nutritional vitamins have proven advantages together with diminished danger of heart problems, sure cancers, cognitive decline (together with Alzheimer’s illness and dementia), and despair, whereas probably enhancing immune operate, bone well being, eye well being, and fetal and toddler growth.

The USDA’s Strategic Plan signifies that one of many Company’s targets is to assist and encourage wholesome consuming by working with colleges to enhance entry to nutritious meals choices, like seafood. Nonetheless, to do that the USDA might want to alert consumers for NSLP of the supply of recent seafood merchandise. The GAO report concerned interviews with 20 of those directors as to why they didn’t try to incorporate extra seafood in class lunches by means of the NSLP. The three mostly cited considerations included: worries about seafood security, scholar preferences for different animal proteins, and availability of seafood.

Academic packages for directors, mother and father, and college students might lower considerations about seafood security and alter preferences for seafood, whereas instructional packages particularly for directors might enhance the number of seafood provided by means of the NSLP. Between 2014 and 2019, the one seafood merchandise provided by means of this system had been Alaska pollock, canned tuna, and catfish bought from a complete of 11 distributors. Whereas these are good seafood decisions, a greater variety of choices together with shrimp and salmon, the 2 most consumed sorts of seafood within the U.S., might lower worries about scholar preferences for different animal proteins and enhance seafood uptake within the NSLP.

Picture courtesy of Tyler Jones.

Together with shrimp within the NSLP would enhance seafood in scholar diets and bolster one in all America’s largest fisheries. Shrimp is by far probably the most consumed seafood sort within the U.S. and accounts for 29% of whole U.S. seafood consumption, and school-age youngsters are more likely to be acquainted with and prepared to eat shrimp by means of the NSLP. Introducing shrimp into the NSLP might enhance the willingness of directors to attempt including different seafood choices to highschool lunches and make youngsters extra prepared to attempt different sorts of seafood each at college and at dwelling.

Moreover, together with U.S. wild-caught shrimp within the NSLP would offer one other potential marketplace for the fishery. The U.S. shrimp fishery is likely one of the 5 largest industrial fisheries within the U.S.; nonetheless, cheaper imported shrimp has negatively impacted the fishery and the coastal communities that depend on the fishery. If the proportion of NSLP animal protein supply purchases from seafood elevated from 1.5% to fifteen%, and simply half of the elevated purchases had been U.S. wild-caught shrimp, the USDA would purchase 27.9 million extra kilos – or 10% of all shrimp landed within the U.S. in 2020. Any such change to the NSLP would enhance scholar consumption of nutritious high-quality seafood as really useful by the USDA Dietary Tips for Individuals and profit U.S. fishermen and coastal communities.

If you need to voice your considerations concerning the lack of wholesome seafood choices within the NSLP or different points vital to you, you need to use this hyperlink to seek out your elected officers and call them to specific your opinions.

For extra info or questions on seafood in class lunch packages, please contact Andrew Ropicki at aropicki@ufl.edu. 

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