Nutrition: How To Flunk Lunch

The school year is barely underway, but parents have received one report card already. Two weeks ago the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine issued its School Lunch Report Card--and the marks weren't good. After analyzing three weeks' worth of elementary-school lunches in 10 of the nation's largest school districts, the PCRM awarded no A's. Three districts flunked. And this is at elementary schools, which don't have fast-food concessions like middle and upper schools. By high school, says Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University's Center for Eating and Weight Disorders, "schools are looking like a 7-Eleven with books."

The PCRM, which admittedly favors vegetarianism, based its grades largely on the availability of fruits, vegetables and meatless entrees--with 20 out of 100 points for simply meeting federal guidelines for basic nutrition. "If we're going to combat childhood obesity, kids need to learn to eat right," says Brownell. But too many seem to be missing the chance.