January 26, 2012
New Guidelines For School Lunches Established
First lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced during a visit with elementary students on Wednesday that schools will soon be seeing a major overhaul in their food selections.
Part of the new rules will see some foods, like pizza, contain less sodium and more whole grains. Also, they are planning to add a wider selection of fruits and vegetables on the side.
Congress blocked the Agriculture Department from making changes to school lunches last year, including limiting french fries and pizza altogether.
A bill was passed last November that would require the department to allow tomato paste on pizzas to be counted as a vegetable. The initial draft of the department's guidelines would have prevented that.
Congress also blocked the department from limiting servings of potatoes to two servings a week, inevitably cutting down the consumption of french fries.
Potato growers and food companies sought help from Congress to fight the changes the Agriculture Department was trying to make.
School districts also were against some of the requirements, claiming they would be too costly and complicated to meet.
Under the new guidelines released Wednesday, sodium content will be lowered, calories will be limited, and students will be prompted to consume more fruits and vegetables.
These changes are the first to raise nutrition standards for meals in over 15 years. Nearly 32 million children eat lunch at school every day, and almost 11 million eat breakfast there as well, according to a USA Today report.
Under the new standards, schools will be required to serve a fruit and vegetable every day at lunch, and in larger portions than offered before.
High school students will have to be offered one cup of vegetables and one cup of fruit per day. Currently, they only have to be offered a total of three-quarters cup of fruit and vegetables.
The milk being served at schools will now be required to be low-fat or fat-free, according to the new guidelines. Also, flavored milk will need to be fat-free.
The new guidelines will take effect the next school year, and changes for breakfast will be phased in.
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