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Family Nutrition: Unveiling of New Standards for School Meals: A Review

I’m a visual person so to start take a look to the right. Today the First Lady, along with Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the first changes to school meal programs in 15 years.  The aim is to clean up some of the high fat, sugary, and salty options that are current in the school system.  The thought is that by providing an extension of healthy options away from home this can help parents who are already working hard to create healthy balanced meals. The changes are said to improve the health and nutrition of 32 million children who utilize the school programs daily.  The staples of the changes will offer both fruits and vegetables at each meal, increase offerings of whole grains, offer low fat and fat free milk products,  as well as focus on calories, portion sizes, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.  School meal changes will be implemented within the next three years starting as early as September 2012.  Lunches are expected to change first with breakfasts following. 

When I took a look at the changes above I see significant decreases in overall calories, an increase in fiber, and a focus on low fat dairy products.  As a dietitian, I think this is a very positive step and I am thrilled to see this take place.

Critics are skeptical that French fries are still allowed on the menu and that tomato sauce on pizza is allowed to be counted as a vegetable.  Although I can absolutely see where the critics are coming from, I still see the above as significant changes that can have a very positive effect on our children.  Frankly, this is where you, the parent, come in.  Everybody should learn how to appropriately portion pizza and French fries and fit them into their meal plan.  Focus on portions and complimenting with a vegetable and fruit and don’t allow your kids to get too worked up on “good or bad foods.”  What do you think about the new standards?

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