Each fall, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sponsors the world’s largest meeting of food and nutrition experts at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. In attendance were more than 10,000 registered dietitians, nutrition science researchers, policy makers, health-care providers and industry leaders addressing key issues affecting the health of all Americans. But our favorite talks revolved around school lunches.
Your child’s cafeteria offerings might look a little different next year, thanks to new government standards. Check out these major improvements:
Tons of fruits and veggies Schools are now required to serve at least 1/2 cup of fruit and 3/4 cup of veggies each per meal, and there are weekly requirements for vegetable offerings that are green, red or orange, and starchy. The old standards called for just 1/2 to 3/4 cup of fruits and veggies combined (and French fries were considered equal to vegetables like broccoli!).
Low-fat dairy Whole and two percent plain milk will be replaced by one percent or nonfat. For flavored varieties, only nonfat can be served.
More whole grains Before this year, they weren’t required at all. Now, half of all grains must be whole, and by 2014, all grained served at school much be whole grain rich.
Fewer calories and less sodium and unhealthy fats Hard to believe, but salt and trans fats used to be unregulated. Now all meals have to contain fewer calories than before (no more than 650 for elementary school lunches and 700 for middle school lunches) and zero grams of trans fat per serving. Sodium will be gradually lowered through 2023, until elementary school lunches contain fewer than 640 milligrams and middle school lunches contain fewer than 710 milligrams.