Monday, July 30, 2012

Feds Require New School Lunch Menus in 2012

When students arrive at school this fall, their cafeteria will look a lot different. School meals must meet new federal nutrition standards requiring more whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and less sodium and calories. Through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act championed by First Lady Michelle Obama and signed by President Obama, the USDA is making the first major changes in school meals in 15 years.

“As parents, we try to prepare decent meals, limit how much junk food our kids eat, and ensure they have a reasonably balanced diet,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “And when we’re putting in all that effort the last thing we want is for our hard work to be undone each day in the school cafeteria. When we send our kids to school, we expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we try to keep them from eating at home. We want the food they get at school to be the same kind of food we would serve at our own kitchen tables.” 

The new standards are expected to cost $3.2 billion over the next five years — less than half of the estimated cost of the proposed rule and are just one of five major components of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, now implemented or under development, that will work together to reform school nutrition. In addition to the updated meal standards, unprecedented improvements to come include:
  • The ability to take nutrition standards beyond the lunchline for the first time ever, foods and beverages sold in vending machines and other venues on school campuses will also contribute to a healthy diet;
  • Increased funding for schools – an additional 6 cents a meal is the first real increase in 30 years – tied to strong performance in serving improved meals;
  • Common-sense pricing standards for schools to ensure that revenues from non-Federal sources keep pace with the Federal commitment to healthy school meals and properly align with costs; and
  • Training and technical assistance to help schools achieve and monitor compliance.


Fruit and Vegetables

Old Requirement: ½ – ¾ cup of fruit and vegetables combined per day

New Requirement: ¾ – 1 cup of vegetables plus ½ -1 cup of fruit per day


Old Requirement: No specifications as to type of vegetable subgroup

New Requirement: Weekly requirement for: dark green, red/orange, beans/peas (legumes), starchy
other (as defined in 2010 Dietary Guidelines)

Meat/Meat Alternate
Old Requirement: 1.5 – 2 oz eq. (daily minimum)

New Requirement: 
Grades K-5: 1 oz eq. min. daily (8-10 oz weekly)
Grades 6-8 : 1 oz eq. min. daily (9-10 oz weekly)
Grades 9-12 : 2 oz eq. min. daily (10-12 oz weekly)


Old Requirement: 8 servings per week (minimum of 1 serving per day)

New Requirement:
Daily minimum and weekly ranges:
Grades K-5: 1 oz eq. min. daily (8-9 oz weekly)
Grades 6-8 : 1 oz eq. min. daily (8-10 oz weekly)
Grades 9-12 : 2 oz eq. min. daily (10-12 oz weekly)

Whole Grains

Old Requirement: ‘Encouraged’

New Requirement: At least half of the grains must be whole grain-rich beginning July 1,
2012. Beginning July 1, 2014, all grains must be whole grain rich.


Old Requirement: 1 cup; Variety of fat contents allowed; flavor not restricted

New Requirement: 1 cup; Must be fat-free(unflavored/flavored) or 1% low fat (unflavored)


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