USDA celebrates the start of a healthier school year for America’s kids

Aug. 29, 2012, USDA Press Release

Agriculture Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon announced on Aug. 29 that America’s students will see healthier and more nutritious foods in the cafeteria as they return to school this year. The new nutrition standards for school meals, implemented as a result of the historic Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, will help to combat child hunger and obesity and improve the health and nutrition of the nation’s children.

“Improving the nutrition of school meals is an important investment in the future of America’s children,” said Concannon. “We know that healthy food plays a vital role in strengthening a child’s body and mind and the healthier school meals will help to ensure our children can learn, grow, and reach their full potential.”

Starting this school year, schools will phase in the nutrition standards over a three-year period. Schools will focus on changes in the lunches in the first year, with most changes in breakfast to take place in future years. The new meal standards:

  • Ensure students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week
  • Substantially increase offerings of whole grain-rich foods and low-fat milk or fat-free milk varieties
  • Limit calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size
  • Focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.

The new meal requirements are raising standards for the first time in more than fifteen years and improving the health and nutrition of nearly 32 million kids that participate in school meal programs every school day. The healthier school meals are a key component of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by the first lady as part of her Let’s Move! campaign and signed into law by President Obama.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including school meals programs, that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger.

Visit www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs. To learn about the meal standards, go to www.fns.usda.gov/healthierschoolday.

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