Healthy Changes Coming to Your SchoolPosted on 01/18/2011
th=”103″ height=”127″ /> A recent survey found that despite rising costs and limited funds, school meals are including more fresh produce and whole grains and less sodium and added sugar. But thanks to a new proposal from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a recently enacted federal law, schools will be able to build on this success and bring healthy changes to every school cafeteria in the nation.
On January 13, USDA released a proposal outlining new nutrition standards that will raise the bar for all school meals. Once the proposed rule is finalized, schools will be required to serve more fruits and vegetables (especially those nutrient rich leafy greens and orange vegetables) and limit the sodium and calories in each meal. The rule states that more than half of the grains and breads offered to students should be whole grain-rich and that milk served with each meal should be 1 percent or nonfat.
The good news reaches beyond the cafeteria – the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, signed into law in December, will ensure that items sold in school vending machines, snack bars and a la carte lines are healthy choices too. This historic legislation will establish new nutrition standards for these “competitive” foods.
But it’s still ok to indulge every once in a while. Treats sent in from home or served at classroom parties will not be banned, and USDA will not regulate occasional bake sales and fundraisers.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, now Public Law 111-296, also provides free, healthy school meals to more children in need and gives schools an additional 6 cents a meal to assist with the added cost of meeting new nutrition standards.
To find out more, watch this fun video of White House Assistant Chef Sam Kass talking with Sesame Street’s Elmo about what changes he may see on his lunch tray: