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USDA Rewrites School Lunch Guidelines

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Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture released new school lunch nutrition guidelines as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed into law last year. The new guidelines call for more fruits and veggies on lunch trays, a reduction in sodium and fats, and proper portion sizes for a child's age.

Plus: Mrs. Q on How Parents Can Improve School Lunches

So will cafeteria staples like pizza and french fries be completely phased out? Not entirely—but the new guidelines stipulate that they be replaced with healthier alternatives, such as pizza with a whole-grain crust and baked sweet potato fries. One controversial staple that's staying is chocolate milk; but only fat-free or low-fat versions of milk, flavored or not, will be served.

First Lady Michelle Obama, who has campaigned for healthier school lunches in her Let's Move! initiative, applauded the new guidelines: "As parents, we try to prepare decent meals, limit how much junk food our kids eat, and ensure they have a reasonably balanced diet. 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.”

Plus: Mrs. Q’s Healthy School Lunch Ideas

The reformed guidelines will be implemented over the next three years and will start just in time for your kid's new school year this fall. Take a look at before and after versions of school lunch menus, proposed by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act to get an idea of what might be served.

What do you think of the new guidelines?

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