When I think back to what I used to be served in the school cafeteria back when I was in elementary school to what I was served in the last two years of high school (I graduated in 2014), there is a very notable difference. In elementary school I would have burritos, chicken strips, hamburger sliders, a square piece of pizza, and for dessert/treats there would sometimes be frozen fruit juice bars or a treat I especially loved: birthday cake. A small, sugary, frosting filled mini birthday cake all for me. I never thought the food was bad (sometimes), but now as an adult and looking at the things I was served as a child, it seems to have been loaded with trans fat, sugar, and sodium.
In the latter half of high school when the new standards for school meals were being implemented, I still thought the food was good (sometimes–most of the time lol) but it was no longer as greasy or salty or sugary. Those treats I had liked seem to have been taken out. The food included more whole grain and there was a variety of fruits and veggies daily that I could choose from.
True, we missed some of the old things that were once served (like mini birthday cakes), but it was for the better. For some students, school food is the only reliable meal they have and if the only food they are being served is full of trans fat and sodium, then that meal is doing them more harm than good.
I do believe that student’s health is better protected than it once was with the new regulations and standards. The only thing is that I don’t believe (I could be wrong) that we have been told the ingredients or calories the foods served in schools have. However, I did find the following page from USDA that has bulleted points on the precautions it takes over school food and some of the options they offer within each food group. https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/fdd/USDAFoods_FactSheet_FINAL2014.pdf