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School Lunches Will Get More Fruits And Veggies: New Rules To Phase In Over Next Three Years
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School Lunches Will Get More Fruits And Veggies: New Rules To Phase In Over Next Three Years

Under a law that President Barack Obama signed into law last year, school lunches will see an increase in fruits and vegetables while sodium and fat levels will be decreased. The new law, called the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act will call for new US Department of Agriculture recommendations and standards to be implemented for all school districts in the US to address both nutrition and obesity for American school children.

Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack said that the quality of lunches for the kids of the country needs to be improved and was a crucial step towards the healthy future. The new law marks the first major changes of the school lunch program in more than a decade and a half and will be gradually phased in across the nation. Some thirty two million children eat lunch in American schools every day.

Under the guidelines established by the USDA, school districts will need to include healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables every day as well as increasing whole grain foods that are being served. Beverages will be restricted to milk in either low fat or fat free options. Schools will also be paying more attention to the portion sizes they are offering so that the kids are getting the right amount of calories for their age groups. That might be one of the most important aspects of the program as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated the obesity rate of children and teens at seventeen percent.

Certain foods will still be offered but will be made in healthier versions. For instance, the standby favorite, school pizza will now be made with a whole wheat crust. French fries will be replaced with sweet potato fries. Schools will get a six cents per meal boost to help pay for the changes in the school lunch program. The whole program is expected to cost just over three billion dollars. Schools will also implement a new program that will allow kids to choose from the healthier food options so that less food is wasted.

In Seattle's public schools, some of these changes have already been implemented according to Wendy Weyer, the Director of Nutrition Services. Weyer's changes have included forming alliances with local farmers and planting school gardens to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables that are available to the children and to reduce some of the cost of the food. Other schools are also using gardens to help get the kids more involved in their food as well as to teach them more about where foods come from.


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