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Under new law, USDA changes school lunch

Thursday, January 13, 2011


By Jason Rano, EWG Senior Legislative Analyst

In mid-December, as millions of American school children were eagerly anticipating their holiday break of sleeping late and no homework, President Obama signed into law the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Now, just a month later, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has taken its first steps under the law to improve the nutritional content of the school lunches eaten every day by about 32 million children, and the breakfasts served to nearly 11 million.

Though not perfect (very few bills are after they go through the legislative process), the new law does expand and improve school meal programs and confronts head-on the unprecedented obesity rates and related health problems of America's kids.

USDA quickly made specific changes to improve kids' health On January 13th, USDA announced a rule that for the first time establishes calorie maximums and minimums for school-served meals. It will also reduce sodium in meals, increase the amount of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods offered and require that only 1 percent or fat-free milk be served.

The rule is certainly not a panacea. It doesn't cover vending machines, which will be dealt with at a later date. But it is an excellent first step to help our children eat healthier, live healthier and have more energy to learn.

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