What’s Going on in Your Child’s Cafeteria?

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October 24, 2012 by thehealthyheartcenter

You may have heard there have been some recent changes in the national school lunch program.  These changes are affecting children across the nation.  Here is a little overview of these changes.


  • This new meal plan is in effect as of the 2012-13 school year, per The Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010.
  • Schools must meet federal requirements but local school authorities regulate specific menu and food preparations. 
  • There are increased requirements for vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
  • The type of vegetable served is now of importance.
  • Milk must be fat free or 1% and there are stricter regulations on flavored milks
  • Sodium within the lunches must be gradually reduced.
  • Calorie limits are in place for kindergarten through fifth grade, sixth through eighth grade, and ninth through twelfth grade.


Below is a comparison of the previous meal requirements with the current requirements.


National School Lunch Program Meal Pattern

Food Group                         Previous requirement Current requirement
Calories No max
Grades k-5: 650 calories 
Grades 6-8: 700 calories
Grades 9-12: 850 calories
Fruits and vegetables ½-3/4 cup of fruit and vegetables per day ¾-1cup vegetables PLUS ½-1 cup fruit per day
Vegetables No specifications Required to include: dark green, red/orange, legumes, starchy, and other vegetables throughout week
Meat or meat alternative 1.5-2 oz per day
Grades k-5: 1 oz/day
Grades 6-8: 1 oz/day
Grades 9-12: 2 oz/day
Grains 8 servings per week; Minimum of 1 serving per day
Grades k-5: 1 oz/day
Grades 6-8: 1 oz/day
Grades 9-12: 2 oz/day
Whole grains No specifications At least half of grains must by whole by July 1, 2012. All grains must be whole by July 1, 2014.
Milk 1 cup. Can be flavored and have various fat contents 1 cup Fat-free (flavored or unflavored) OR 1% (unflavored)


What do you think of the new school lunch program? 

Do your children like the changes?


Source: http://www.usda.gov


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