School lunches aligning with dietary guidelines
The final rule for nutrition standards in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program was released Jan. 26. It brings a new pattern to plan menus for school meals, which align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Being in compliance with the new standards will qualify schools for an additional 6 cents for every reimbursable lunch (free, reduced and paid) starting Oct. 1, 2012.
Under the new meal pattern, students at the secondary level are served a minimum of two ounces of meat/meat alternate per day with a weekly limit of 12 ounces, two ounces of bread/grain with 10-12 ounces equivalent for the weekly total, one cup of fruit, one cup of vegetables and a milk. There also is a minimum and maximum calorie limit of 750-850 kcal per meal, along with requirements for different categories of vegetables to be served per week, such as dark green, dark orange/red and a legume every week. The new meal pattern requires students to take a minimum of half a cup of fruit or vegetables along with two other full components to count as a reimbursable meal.
Many students are complaining nationwide that they are not getting enough to eat from the school lunch being provided. The school lunch is meant to meet one-third of the daily requirement for total calories, and at 750-850 this is right on target. Recommended calories for a 14- to 18-year-old is 1,800 for a sedentary individual and 2,400 for an active teen. One problem here is that students are not taking advantage of all of the food they are being offered. Eating a balanced meal with many fruits and vegetables is something that many will have to get used to over time.
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