Monday, August 26, 2013

Back To Class: Three Ways School Meals (and Snacks) Will Look Different

With the average American child spending up more than 20 hours a week in school, it follows that they’re doing a good part of their daily eating there as well. Here’s an update on changes that state and federal health officials are making to ensure that what kids are noshing on in between class nourishes their bodies as well as their brains.
Better Breakfasts:  The Healthy, Hunger-Free Act of 2010 provided the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and states with the authority to phase in five major reforms to school nutrition, including adding six cents of federal reimbursement to states per meal to fund more nutritious lunch options for the first time in 30 years, and the ability to apply healthy nutrition standards beyond the cafeteria for snacks as well. This school year, the first phase of the updated School Breakfast Program will be in place; that means students should be able to get low-fat milk and appropriate portions for their age. Fifty percent of the the grains served at breakfast must come from whole grains, and by the next school year, 100% of them should be whole grains.
Healthier School Lunches: During the last school year, new school lunch standards limited calories to between 550 and 650 calories for elementary school lunches, between 600 and 700 for middle school lunches, and 750 to 850 calories for meals served in high schools.  Full-fat milk was eliminated and more whole grains, fruits and vegetables were added to the menu. The calorie cuts were criticized (and cleverly mocked in parody videos) by many students, who complained that the requirements left them hungry. In response, the USDA allowed schools more flexibility in meat and grain servings. For now, schools continue to have this leeway as health officials finesse requirements for lunch offerings.
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