National parks’ new menu: Less ice cream, more lentil soup

The National Park Service is trading ice cream for lentil soup as well as hot dogs for local farm produce as it pushes a new Healthy and Sustainable Food Program at all its properties this summer.

“There’s no reason you should have to take a vacation from healthy eating when you’re on vacation,” said Jonathan Jarvis, director of the Park Service, in USA Today.

NPS now will offer at its snack kiosks and restaurants around the nation lentil and tomato soups, bison hot dogs, grass-fed beef, black-bean sliders, fish tacos and farm-grown produce, USA Today reported.

The menu change will affect a significant number of Americans: Nearly 23 million buy food at Park Service facilities each year, USA Today said. Ice cream and traditional hot dogs will still be offered — just not as often, and they won’t hold the same prominence on menus.

“Often times the parks are isolated so there may not be many other food venues nearby. You think of going to a park as a healthier vacation because you are hiking and walking around. But if the food isn’t healthy, you may come back one or two pounds heavier and never lose it,” said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, in the USA Today report.

Grand Canyon South Rim now serves vegetables and fruit as a substitute for french fries, USA Today reported. Yellowstone National Park offers a wide variety of soups, salads and locally grown items. And food served at the Statue of Liberty is now calorie-conscious, with 15 meals under 550 calories, USA Today reported.

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