The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, championed by First Lady Michelle Obama, is changing the School Lunch Program. The requirements will raise standards for the first time in more than fifteen years and will result in healthier meals for kids that participate in school meal programs across the nation. These new standards require schools to serve more fruits and vegetables (including beans, dark green and orange vegetables every week), switch to whole grains, serve only low-fat or no-fat milk, and limit the sodium and calories in each meal.
School meals must meet these new requirements starting in the 2012-2013 school year. In addition to the foods that the schools must offer to students, the new requirements state what the student must take in order for that lunch to be considered a student meal.
What is a student meal?
A complete student meal has 5 components or food groups – Bread, Protein, Fruits, Vegetables and Milk. The student may select 1 item from each food group, but the student must take at least 3 different food groups to make a meal that is charged the student lunch price, which is a reimbursable meal. A ‘reimbursable’ meal means that the meal selected meets all the requirements of the National School Lunch Program. In meeting these requirements, each school district receives federal and state funding to offset food service expenses. Because of this funding, we are able to keep student lunch prices reasonably low.
How is the student meal different under the new law?
As mentioned above, school must offer a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains every day. Starting in the 2012-2013 school year, one of the food groups on the student’s lunch tray must be fruits or vegetables in order to qualify for the student lunch price. If a student does not select fruits or vegetables along with the other required food groups, then that meal would not be considered a student meal and the student would be charged the a la carte pricing. A la carte pricing can be more expensive because each item is charged separately rather than as a meal which consists of 5 different food groups.
Parents, go over the school menu with your children so they understand what makes a complete meal. Teach your kids!!
For more information please click here: USDA