Federal reforms for school meals mandate more fruits, veggies and whole grains
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The Act made the first real increase in school meal payments in 30 years, Concannon said. The criteria to earn the increase will be ready when updated standards go into effect at the beginning of the 2012 school year.
The updated nutrition standards are proposed for school meals based on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine. USDA is reviewing more than 130,000 comments from schools, states and parents on the proposed rule.
It would also double fruits served at breakfast, increase whole grains, provide only low or nonfat milk and establish standards for the gradual reduction of sodium in school meals.
Concannon said that HHFKA saw widespread bipartisan support and that the Senate Committee on Agriculture passed it with a unanimous vote. Support is propelled by statistics on the children's health, including those reporting that one in three children in the nation are categorized as obese and approximately 17 percent of young adults are ineligible to serve in the military because they are overweight.
“One of the biggest reasons most young Americans are not eligible to serve in the military is obesity,” said D. Allen Youngman, Major General, USA (ret). “This is a monumental step in the right direction.”
Among other USDA implementations through HHFKA, Concannon announced that USDA provided funds and direction to improve direct certification systems to help more children already receiving benefits from SNAP, TANF and FDPIR gain access to free school meals without the need for completing another eligibility form.
Concannon also announced that schools nationwide reached First Lady Michelle Obama's goal of 1,250 schools receiving HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) honors for expanding nutrition and physical activity opportunities. HUSSC is a part of the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation.
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