School lunches to have more veggies, whole grains
First lady Michelle Obama has lunch with school children at Parklawn elementary school in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday, Jan., 25, 2012. She was joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, right, and celebrity cook Rachael Ray, left. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
(AP) -- The first major nutritional overhaul of school meals in more than 15 years means most offerings - including the always popular pizza - will come with less sodium, more whole grains and a wider selection of fruits and vegetables on the side.
First lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the new guidelines during a visit Wednesday with elementary students. Mrs. Obama, also joined by celebrity chef Rachael Ray, said youngsters will learn better if they don't have growling stomachs at school.
"As parents, we try to prepare decent meals, limit how much junk food our kids eat, and ensure they have a reasonably balanced diet," Mrs. Obama said. "And when we're putting in all that effort the last thing we want is for our hard work to be undone each day in the school cafeteria."
After the announcement, the three went through the line with students and ate turkey tacos with brown rice, black bean and corn salad and fruit - all Ray's recipes - with children in the Parklawn Elementary lunchroom.
Under the new rules, pizza won't disappear from lunch lines, but will be made with healthier ingredients. Entire meals will have calorie caps for the first time and most trans fats will be banned. Sodium will gradually decrease over a 10 year period. Milk will have to be low in fat and flavored milks will have to be nonfat.
Despite the improvements, the new rules aren't as aggressive as the Obama administration had hoped. Congress last year blocked the Agriculture Department from making some of the desired changes, including limiting french fries and pizzas.
A bill passed in November would require the department to allow tomato paste on pizzas to be counted as a vegetable, as it is now. The initial draft of the department's guidelines, released a year ago, would have prevented that. Congress also blocked the department from limiting servings of potatoes to two servings a week. The final rules have incorporated those directions from Congress.
Among those who had sought the changes were potato growers and food companies that produce frozen pizzas for schools. Conservatives in Congress called the guidelines an overreach and said the government shouldn't tell children what to eat. School districts also objected to some of the requirements, saying they go too far and would cost too much.
The guidelines apply to lunches subsidized by the federal government. A child nutrition bill signed by President Barack Obama in 2010 will help school districts pay for some of the increased costs. Some of the changes will take place as soon as this September; others will be phased in over time.
While many schools are improving meals already, others still serve children meals high in fat, salt and calories. The guidelines are designed to combat childhood obesity and are based on 2009 recommendations by the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences.
Vilsack said food companies are reformulating many of the foods they sell to schools in anticipation of the changes.
"The food industry is already responding," he said. "This is a movement that has started, it's gaining momentum."
Diane Pratt-Heavner of the School Nutrition Association, which represents school lunch workers, said that many schools won't count pizza as a vegetable even though they can. Students qualifying for subsidized meals must have a certain number of vegetables and other nutritious foods on their lunch trays.
"Most schools are serving fruit or vegetable next to their pizza and some schools are even allowing unlimited servings of fruit or vegetables," Pratt-Heavner said.
Celebrity chef Ray said she thinks too much has been made of the availability of pizza and French fries. The new rules will make kids' lunch plates much more nutrient dense, she said.
"The overall picture is really good," she said. "This is a big deal."
The subsidized meals that would fall under the guidelines are served as free and low-cost meals to low-income children and long have been subject to government nutrition standards. The 2010 law will extend, for the first time, nutrition standards to other foods sold in schools that aren't subsidized by the federal government. That includes "a la carte" foods on the lunch line and snacks in vending machines.
Those standards, while expected to be similar, will be written separately and have not yet been proposed by the department.
More information: USDA school lunch rules: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Governance/Legislation/nutritionstandards.htm
©2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
- Congress pushes back on healthier school lunches Nov 15, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Obama: Nutrition bill vital to children's future Dec 13, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Study finds federal school lunches linked to childhood obesity Aug 24, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Results of the third school nutrition dietary assessment study published Feb 01, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Kids eat more fruits, vegetables when schools offer salad bar Dec 06, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
People eating at fast food restaurants largely underestimate the calorie content of meals, especially large ones, according to a paper published today in BMJ.
Health 7 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Don't doubt it when a woman harried by hot flashes says she's having a hard time remembering things. A new study published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), helps confirm with o ...
Health 8 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
The Senate has overwhelmingly rejected an amendment allowing states to require labeling of genetically modified foods.
Health 9 hours ago | not rated yet | 1
(AP)—McDonald's once again faced criticism that it's a purveyor of junk food that markets to children at its annual shareholder meeting Thursday.
Health 10 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Can economic incentives such as gift cards, T-shirts, and time off from work motivate members of the public to increase their donations of blood?
Health 12 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Regulating the distribution of power in neurons is done by a system that makes the national electric grid look simple by comparison. Each neuron has several thousand mitochondria confined ...
8 hours ago | 4.8 / 5 (5) | 0 |
A brief visual task can predict IQ, according to a new study. This surprisingly simple exercise measures the brain's unconscious ability to filter out visual movement. The study shows that individuals whose ...
14 hours ago | 4.4 / 5 (9) | 0 |
Teams of highly respected Alzheimer's researchers failed to replicate what appeared to be breakthrough results for the treatment of this brain disease when they were published last year in the journal Science.
12 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 2 |
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health report they have discovered in mouse studies that a small molecule released in the spinal cord triggers a process that is later experienced in the brain as ...
12 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Little is known about why asthma develops, how it constricts the airway or why response to treatments varies between patients. Now, a team of researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College, Columbia University Medical Center ...
12 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Ethnic background plays a surprisingly large role in how diabetes develops on a cellular level, according to two new studies led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
10 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |