I know I’m a little behind on posting this, but better late than never! Have you seen the newly proposed school lunch guidelines? From the looks of these guidelines most children will be eating healthier than their parents! Is that sad? I think not. This is a great opportunity for kids to start better eating habits. The proposed guidelines were created due to the updated Dietary Guidelines, and they were created based on the following recommendations;

  • Lower saturated fat consumption
    • Lower sodium consumption
    • A new red/orange vegetable subgroup.

Here are some of the important changes that have been made to your kids’ (or future kids!) school lunches:

FRUITS and VEGGIES: What was once a 1/2 cup – 1 cup fruits/vegetables combined, is now 3/4-1 cup vegetables, and 1/2 cup to 1 cup fruit per day. There is also a requirement for lunches to include dark green and orange vegetables every week, plus legumes (beans, peas, lentils) and a limit on starchy vegetables (such as corn, and potatoes).

MEAT and MEAT ALTERNATIVES: For meat and meat alternatives, there is now a 1.6-2.4 ounce requirement (per lunch), which isn’t much different than before.

GRAINS: The new grain requirement isn’t much different than before, at 1.8-2.6 ounces per day, but my favorite part is that whole grains are no longer only “strongly encouraged” but instead half of the grains that are offered must be whole grain. Awesome!

MILK: The milk requirement is still one cup, but chocolate milk has to be fat free and there can only be skim or 1% white milk offered.

My final thoughts and comments:

– Why such precise ounce measurements?! Who wants to weigh out 2.6 ounces of grain?!

– The whole grain requirement is slightly weak, in my opinion, but I guess I shouldn’t complain. Compared to “strongly encouraged” this is a big improvement!

– Are they going to work on getting higher quality foods in the schools? I have this fear that the food will not taste good because schools have very little money to spend on food. This may backfire and make children hate healthy food. Not good.

– I still wish they would call the “Meat and Meat Alternatives” category “beans and meat” so as to stay consistent with the dietary guidelines and MyPyramid. Wouldn’t that make things a little less confusing?!

– I’m slightly confused about how they are differentiating the legumes from the starchy vegetables. They have a limit on starchy vegetables, but I don’t think they are counting peas, lentils and beans as starchy vegetables, because those are now required. I think I need to read more of the document to understand this.

– Want to share your thoughts or concerns about these new rules? The USDA is accepting comments from the public until April of this year.

** To read more details about the new school lunch guidelines, check out the USDA website and click on “Proposed Rule”, which is beneath Reauthorization 2010. **

QUESTION: What do you think of these proposed changes? If these rules were in place, would you feel better about having your kids eat school lunches?