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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing common-sense standards to improve school meals: more fruits, vegetables and whole grains; fat-free and low-fat milk; less sodium and fewer unhealthy fats and calories.

In order to finalize its standards, and for schools to begin to serve more nutritious breakfasts and lunches, USDA needs to know that you want healthier school foods too -- but we only have until April 13th to send public comments.

Kids need nutritious meals to help them grow strong and healthy and avoid long-term health risks such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer. Unfortunately, more than 90 percent of schools serve meals that do not meet current nutrition standards. Based on the strong recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine and the federal government’s own Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the new USDA proposal would substantially improve the quality of school lunches and breakfasts. 

If the USDA-proposed standards are finalized, school children will have healthier meals that include:

   •  More fruits and vegetables—double the amount of fruit at breakfast and more fruits and vegetables at lunch;

   •  A greater variety of vegetables to include more colorful options and fewer starchy vegetables like French fries;

  •  More whole grains—within two years all grains served will be whole grain;

  •  Only fat-free and low-fat milk and limits on flavored milk; and

  •  Less sodium, which will be phased in over time.

USDA is calling for these standards to be in place by the Fall of 2012 and will provide model recipes, menus and training to food service staff to help the schools serve more healthful meals.

Please join us in supporting the proposed standards before the comment deadline on April 13th -- and let USDA know you want healthier school meals for all students.



The Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project is a collaboration of the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Letter to
U.S. Department of Agriculture Sec. Vilsack
Thank you for your efforts to set science-based nutrition standards for school meals. We know that a nutritious, well-balanced diet helps reduce long-term health risks such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer. We also know that habits formed in childhood can last into adulthood. Introducing kids to healthy foods while they are still young is critical. I strongly support the proposed school meal standards, including the following:

• Increasing the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables served with meals, while also limiting starchy foods such as French fries;
• Making all the grains rich in whole grains;
• Serving only milk that is fat-free or low-fat;
• Lowering sodium in meals;
• Training food service staff to implement the changes by the start of the 2012 school year; and
• Ensuring schools are reviewed to assess compliance with the new nutrition standards.

Overall, the proposed meal standards are much needed and will help to safeguard the health of American children. Please consider this as an official comment on the " Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs (Document ID FNS-2007-0038-0001)" that appeared in the Federal Register on January 13, 2011 (Volume 76, Number 9)."

Thank you again for your leadership on improving school meals.


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