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Healthy Changes Coming to Your School

Posted on 01/18/2011

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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:

7 Comments - View or Leave a Reply

  • Carol Jones January 25th, 2011 9:54 pm

    It is important to understand that the new proposed nutrition standards come at a cost-much higher food costs and expected(per UDSA) loss of participation, resulting in children not eating nutritious meals. Restrictions of favorite and nutritious vegetables such as green peas and lima beans make no nutritional sense and are not based on scientific evidence, as was the expectation of the revisions. And offer vs. serve designed to reduce plate waste is no more, as students must take a fruit or vegetable. Of course, with the incidence of osteoprosis in our population, taking milk would have been just as reasonable a requirement as fruits and vegetables. Nutrition standards needed to be raised, but what USDA released is a major disappointment. Finally, many schools do a great job at promoting whole grains, fruits and vegetables and it is an insult to all that recent publicity making it sound like all of these things are new to our program.

  • Tray Talk Team February 8th, 2011 9:02 pm

    The US Department of Agriculture’s proposed rule to update nutrition standards for school meals is open for public comment until April 13, 2011. USDA has welcomed comments from school nutrition professionals and parents, and encourages all interested parties to submit their concerns and ideas for improving the nutrition standards at!documentDetail;D=FNS-2007-0038-0001.
    School Nutrition Association (SNA) has assembled a Task Force to collect input from SNA members and develop the association’s submission in response to the proposed rule. More information can be found at:

  • Kathy Haag May 1st, 2011 11:10 pm

    Many schools do not do a good job! They feed chicken nuggets and french fries, tacos and cheese sauce, and the vegetables are offered, but few kids take them. Leafy greens supply more calcium than milk and it is more easilyabsorbed, but that isn’t promoted like the chocolate milk is? The video with elmo is a joke, because I have eaten and looked at different school menus and have never seen them as good as elmo’s looked! The ones I see are bland, white, processed, and full of suger, fat, and empty calories. No wonder the occurance of Adult onset type II diabetes is now one of the fastest growing childhood diseases! I think we can do better for these kids! I want better for my kids!

  • Mary Polansky June 23rd, 2011 5:09 pm

    we are concerned about the correct portion size of foods my 9 year old triplet grandchildren should have at each meal. also can you tell us how much boys and girls at this age should weigh? we have 2 boys, 1 girl. Thank you.

  • Romona January 29th, 2012 3:10 pm

  • Jason Ellingson September 14th, 2012 9:37 pm

    Why is the Federal Govt regulating what my son is eating at school? This is just ridiculous! The Federal Govt needs to stay out of my local community and stay out of my local elementry schools lunch room.

  • Nikki, Mark, Ashley,Amanda October 30th, 2012 6:00 pm

    We are doing a project on this topic, and would love any information that can be offered or any help. Thanks

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