USDA releases proposal for school lunch changes

A major scale back is coming to a lunchroom favorite: Frenchfries.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released newhealth standards for schools on Thursday. They are part of theHealth, Hunger Free Kids Act 2010, which President Barack Obamasigned into law in December.

The USDA is releasing their proposed changes to school meals asa way to fight childhood obesity. About 25 million children (or 3percent) are obese in the United States.

This is the first time in 15 years that school nutritionstandards will be raised.

USA Today reports that the recommendationsinclude:

  • Decrease the amount of starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn and green peas, to one cup a week.
  • Reduce sodium in meals over the next 10 years. A high school lunch now has about 1,600 milligrams of sodium. Through incremental changes, that amount should be lowered over the next decade to 740 milligrams or less of sodium for grades through 9 through 12; 710 milligrams or less for grades 6 through 8; 640 milligrams or less for kindergarten through fifth grades.
  • Establish calorie maximums and minimums for the first time. For lunch: 550 to 650 calories for kindergarten through fifth grade; 600 to 700 for grades 6 through 8; 750 to 850 for grades 9 through 12.
  • Serve only unflavored 1% milk or fat-free flavored or unflavored milk. Currently, schools can serve milk of any fat content.
  • Increase the fruits and vegetables kids are offered. The new rule requires that a serving of fruit be offered daily at breakfast and lunch and that two servings of vegetables be offered daily at lunch.
  • Increase whole grains substantially. Currently, there is no requirement regarding whole grains, but the proposed rules require that half of grains served must be whole grains.
  • Minimize trans fat by using products where the nutrition label says zero grams of trans fat per serving.

The USDA is now asking for public feedback through April 13.Once the regulations are approved, the next challenge for schoolswill be funding the changes.

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