USDA Plan May Mean Healthier School Lunches

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New guidelines are on the menu for school lunches across the country as the government seeks to make healthier food options available to students.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday its plans to require schools to cut sodium in meals by more than half, and use more whole grains and low fat options.

Officials hope the guidelines will lower the childhood obesity rates.

The new standards would also require schools to serve both fruits and vegetables daily, and allow only a cup a week of starches like french fries.

This is the first major nutritional overhaul of school meals in 15 years.

The new USDA guidelines would:

  • Establish the first calorie limits for school meals.
  • Gradually reduce the amount of sodium in the meals over 10 years, with the eventual goal of reducing sodium by more than half.
  • Ban most trans fats.
  • Require more servings of fruits and vegetables.
  • Require all milk served to be low fat or nonfat, and require all flavored milks to be nonfat.
  • Incrementally increase the amount of whole grains required, eventually requiring most grains to be whole grains.
  • Improve school breakfasts by requiring schools to serve a grain and a protein, instead of one or the other.

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