(WXIA) -- 11Alive News enjoyed a visit Monday from an expert who helped answer parents' questions about health and the meals their kids eat at school.
Are school lunches healthy?
Wendy Palmer is a registered dietitian with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and says school meals have really had a makeover through the last few years. They are now much more nutritious and have much better quality, making them pretty healthy.
Some believe school lunches are not very affordable. According to Palmer, elementary schools in the metro Atlanta area charge an average of $2.00 - $2.15 for each meal. In high school, lunch costs about $2.50.
School lunches are also well-balanced, Palmer says. While there are choices for kids at school, the meal that most schools are serving is meant to follow the USDA's "My Plate" model, which includes a half plate of fruits and vegetables, one quarter whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy.
Parents have concern over drinks in the cafeteria. They many think that 100 percent fruit juice is just as health as water, and that kids may drink as much as they want. Palmer said this is fiction, as fruit juice contains about six teaspoons of sugar per cup. Water and milk are better choices.
What about what kids eat and the success they see in school work? Palmer said studies continue to show that the more nutrition our children get, the better they do in school. Key nutrients like iron, zinc and lean protein are linked to better test scores in school, Palmer said.