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USDA Makes Mandatory Changes to School Lunches

USDA Makes Mandatory Changes to School Lunches – The USDA has recently issued new school lunch / school meal requirements for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program. These standards will be effective for the 2012-2013 school year. This means students will see some changes this school year in the foods served in school lunches when it comes to nutrition.

Your student will experience the new USDA nutritional requirements when they dine in their school cafeteria. One vital change is the requirement for a student to select at least ½ cup of fruit or vegetable to make up a complete meal for school lunches. There are five food groups to select foods from: fruits, vegetables, protein, whole grains, and milk. School lunches must contain at least a selection of 3 of the 5 food groups with one being the fruit and/or vegetable selection. If no fruit or vegetable is selected in the school lunch, the student will pay the individual item prices for foods instead of the complete meal price. Here is an overview of what you can expect to see for school lunch and school meal options:

Increase in Fruits and Vegetables

  • Some schools plan to offer double the amount of fruits and vegetables with meals.
  • A large variety of nutrient dense fruits and vegetables, including dark greens, orange starchy vegetables and legumes will be available.
  • Students will now be required to select at least 1/2 cup of fruit or vegetable for their meal to be considered a complete meal or will be charged individual item prices.

Here’s more of what you may see in school lunches depending on school district:

Allowable Grains and Proteins for School Lunches:

  • School lunch menus will offer specific amounts of whole grains and proteins that meet the requirements
  • For some breads and meats students might see smaller size portions
  • Additionally, the new school lunch regulations require that half of grains offered at lunch be whole grains.

Lower Sodium in School Lunches

Reduced Fats in School Lunches

School Lunch Menus by Age Groups

  • New grade groups for menu planning will be aimed at ensuring students receive age-appropriate portions and nutrition.

How do you feel about the recent changes to school lunch policies and regulations regarding nutrition? Is this a good thing, or is it a tad too much government involvement?

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