School Lunches to Count Calories with New Nutrition Guidelines
Take a good look at the new school lunch rules
In the first makeover in 15 years, the USDA is revamping the long-criticized school lunch guidelines by requiring schools to offer more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, and fat-free flavored milk. The tomato sauce on pizza, however, is still considered a vegetable.
Michelle Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the changes yesterday at a Virginia elementary school with celebrity chef Rachael Ray.
Schools are now required to:
• Offer fruit daily for breakfast and lunch
• Offer vegetables daily at lunch
• Limit quantity of starchy vegetables (that means you, potato) throughout the week
• Switch half of the grains to whole grains upon implementation; Switch all grains to whole-grain rich within two years
• Provide fat-free flavored milk, as well as fat-free and low-fat plain milk
• Prepare meals using ingredients and products with zero trans fat per serving
• Reduce sodium content of meals over a 10-year period
The changes are expected to add $3.2 billion to the cost of school meals over five years.
"As parents, we try to prepare decent meals, limit how much junk food our kids eat, and ensure they have a reasonable balanced diet," Obama said Wednesday. "And when we're putting in all that effort, the last thing we want is for all our hard work to be undone each day in the school cafeteria."
The guidelines also specify how many calories each lunch must be.
Children from kindergarten through fifth grade must have lunches between 550 and 650 calories. Sixth through eighth graders have lunches with 600 to 700 calories. Ninth to 12th graders' lunches will be 750 to 850 calories.
Click here to see a chart depicting meal plans before and after the changes. Guidelines will be implemented starting in the 2012-2013 school year.
The Daily Byte is a regular column dedicated to covering interesting food news and trends across the country. Click here for previous columns.