HUGE news, friends! The new federal guidelines for school lunches have been released. This change is the first revamp of our government’s school lunch (and breakfast!) program in 15 years. This is important because 32 million kids just like you regularly eat school lunch. The new plan has its strengths and weaknesses, but most people are celebrating these relatively huge steps to fight obesity and make sure kids are eating healthy food in schools!
Here is an outline of some of the new guidelines:
-Schools will double the amount of fruits and vegetables served daily. That means ¾-1 cup of veggies and ½-1 cup of fruit.
-Grains (8-12 ounces of the meals weekly) must be at least half whole grain by July 1, 2012 and ALL whole grain by July 1, 2014.
-Milk (1 cup daily) must be fat-free or 1% low-fat. Fat-free milk may still be flavored.
-Limits on the levels of salt and trans fats.
-A new minimum and maximum calorie intake per day based on student age, lower than it was previously.
Some things we still have to work on:
-Pizza, because it has a small amount of tomato paste on it, is still considered a vegetable.
-Big Food lobbyists convinced the government not to limit starchy vegetables, like potatoes, so french fries will still show up on lunch trays.
-Sugary flavored milk is still allowed if it is fat-free.
-A 6-cent increase in lunch reimbursements will be given to schools that comply with the new lunch standards. This is the first increase in lunch reimbursements in 30 years, but critics claim it is not enough to support schools in serving children the new healthy food the plan requires. Health advocates feel that more money needs to go into the school lunch program, but costs had to be cut on this program to get it passed because our critics felt our government did not have enough money to pay for it. Big changes in priorities of all lawmakers and lobbyists will be required if we are ever to invest more in in our lunch program.
Despite all this, most are quite happy with the new standards. Margo Wootan, the director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest puts it aptly, “The only disappointment is that Congress did not allow USDA to limit French fries and that they were forced to count pizza as a vegetable. But at least that pizza will be lower in sodium and have a whole grain crust and be served with an additional vegetable on the side.”
To see a great critique of the new lunch standards and learn about even more elements of the program , check out this post by our friends over at The Lunch Tray- http://www.thelunchtray.com/new-usda-school-food-standards-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/
And let ME know what you think of the new standards in the comments!
Love and Smiles,
Quotation of the Week- “Despite the fact that Congress said the U.S.D.A. could not limit potatoes in school lunches or breakfast, we still feel like the potato is being downplayed in favor of other vegetables in the new guidelines. It seems the department still considers the potato a second-class vegetable.”
-Mark Szymanski, National Potato Council
I think this is a silly statement. Poor potatoes?