USDA Proposes New School Lunch Standards

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued proposed nutritional guidelines under the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that will require free or reduced-price meals to have more fruits, whole grains, vegetables and low-fat milk and less sodium, calories, saturated  fats and trans fats.

The proposed changes, published this week in the Federal Register, are subject to a 90-day comment period before they can be finalized.  

The USDA proposal is endorsed by the Obama administration as evidenced by a blog entry from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on First Lady Michelle Obama’s obesity prevention website, Let’s Move.

The recommendations are based on a report from the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine released in October 2009.

USDA’s document details are available for public comment until April 13, 2011 right here. The exact nutrition standards are listed starting on page 2499 and include the following:

For breakfast –

* The fruit requirement increases from 1/2 cup a day to 1 cup.

* Whole grains, previously encouraged, must comprise at least half of the grain content.

* Milk, fat content previously optional, now must be 1 percent or less.

For lunch –

* Fruits and vegetables, which currently must account for a combined 1/2 to 1 cup per day, would change to 3/4 to 1 cup of vegetables and to 1/2 to 1 cup of fruit per day.

* From no specifics as to types of vegetables to weekly requirement of dark green and orange vegetables and legumes and limits on starchy vegetables.

* The current daily average serving of meat, 1.5 ounces to 3 ounces, is changed to 1.6 to 2.4 ounces per week.