Announcing “The School Day Just got Healthier” school lunch campaign

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 directed the National School Lunch Program to update meal design and nutrition standards beginning in the 2012/2013 school year.

The School Day Just got Healthier” campaign will provide increased availability of healthier foods to school-aged children.

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally-assisted meal program operating in public, non-profit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. The program was established under the National School Lunch Act, signed by President Harry Truman in 1946, with approximately 7.1 million children participating in the NSLP by the end of its first year. In 2011, more than 31.8 million children each day got their lunch through the NSLP. Since the modern program began, more than 224 billion lunches have been served.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 directed USDA to update the NSLP’s meal pattern and nutrition standards based on the latest “Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” The new meal design goes into effect at the beginning of 2012/2013 school year, and increases the availability of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in the school menu. New dietary specifications set calorie limits to ensure age-appropriate meals for grades kindergarten through five, six through eight, and nine through 12.

These healthier meals will consist of more fruits and vegetables, proteins, whole grains and milk. Additionally, meals will meet strict limits on saturated fat, calories and portion size and will have 0 grams of trans fat.

Starting this fall, school lunches must satisfy these additional requirements:

  • Age-appropriate calorie limits
  • Larger servings of vegetables and fruits (students must take at least one serving of produce)
  • A wider variety of vegetables, including dark green and red/orange vegetables and legumes
  • Fat-free or 1% milk (flavored milk must be fat-free)
  • More whole grains
  • Less sodium

The menus will also include whole grain breads, rice and pastas. Locally-grown fruit and vegetables will also be offered to schools.

Parents and caregivers can learn more with a toolkit which has a collection of resources including brochures, information and resources to help your child eat healthy and learn healthy behaviors.

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