Now that children are heading back to school, efforts by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to develop new school lunch standards are generating increased interest in changing meal requirements.
The new meal standards, which were approved in January, take effect at the start of this school year. Notable changes include offering both fruits and vegetables each day of the week, offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties, limiting calories based on child's age and reducing saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.
Protein servings are also affected by the new requirements. Now, 2 oz. of meat or meat alternate is required for high school students (grades 9-12) and 1 oz. for younger students. The final rule also specifies that flavored milk must be low-fat.
To address questions about the new nutrition plans, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Janey Thornton answered questions from Twitter users on Wednesday about the new requirements.
Questions and answers have been taken directly from Twitter and have not been edited. Answers from Deputy Under Secretary Thornton are tagged with "Thornton."
Q1 #AskUSDA RT @CAFoodPolicy: Students want appealing food. How can USDA help SFAs design a student driven menu? #SchoolFoodsRule
A1 Thornton: They should involve students when planning menues! It can be healthy and student friendly at the same time. #AskUSDA
A1 Thornton: Students can be involved in taste tests, both in the cafeteria and in the classroom. #AskUSDA
A1 Thornton: Parents may offer some of the healthier choices at home after viewing school menus on the district websites. #AskUSDA
Q2 RT @Blammo33: What has been the general response from schools about the new regulations? #AskUSDA
A2 Thornton: At 1st there was concern & anxiety, now that school is underway, we're hearing lots of excitement & positive feedback! #AskUSDA