With the passage of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today unveiled new standards for school meals that will result in healthier meals for kids across the nation. The new meal requirements will raise standards for the first time in more than fifteen years and improve the health and nutrition of nearly 32 million kids that participate in school meal programs every school day.
As parents, we try to prepare decent meals, limit how much junk food our kids eat, and ensure they have a reasonably balanced diet,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “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. When we send our kids to school, we expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we try to keep them from eating at home. We want the food they get at school to be the same kind of food we would serve at our own kitchen tables.”
“Improving the quality of the school meals is a critical step in building a healthy future for our kids,” said Vilsack. “When it comes to our children, we must do everything possible to provide them the nutrition they need to be healthy, active and ready to face the future – today we take an important step towards that goal.”
The final standards make the same kinds of practical changes that many parents are already encouraging at home, including:
- Ensuring students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week
- Substantially increasing offerings of whole grain-rich foods;
- Offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties;
- Limiting calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size; and
- Increasing the focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.
To help make these standards easy for parents and students to understand, we have provided handouts entitled "In a Nutshell" giving a simplified version of the standards for each meal in an easy to read format.