USDA has established new guidelines that schools are to follow to ensure healthier meals for students. Meals are required to meet science-based, federal nutrition standards limiting fat and portion size and requiring that schools offer the right balance of fruits, vegetables, milk, grains and proteins with every meal.
Students have a choice of five components or items to include in their meals:
- breads/grains, and
Students will need to have at least three items on their trays and may choose up to ive items, but one of these items must be a fruit or vegetable. The "all you care to eat" fruit and vegetable bars are available for students to add to their meals, but there will also be more variety of fruits and especially vegetables on the serving lines to hopefully entice the students to take at least one so they can pass the cashier without having to go back and get one. Other changes include:
- Saturated fats must be less than 10% of the calories
- No trans fat is allowed
- Milk offered must be 1 percent or less fat for white milk and zero percent fat for flavored milk
- Half of the grains must be whole grain-rich
- Fruit must be offered daily
- Vegetable subgroups must be offered weekly- leafy greens, legumes, red/orange, starchy, and others
- Cafeterias must offer larger servings of vegetables and fruit with every school lunch, and children must take at least one serving.
- Calories will be controlled to 550-650 calories per lunch meal for elementary, 600-700 for 6-8th Grade, and 750-850 for High School students
- Sodium levels will be gradually reduced
- Water must be offered as a beverage for any student that does not want milk