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School Lunch Standards to Take Effect This Year

Whole grain-rich foods, more fruits and vegetables mandated.

School districts across the country will bring new meaning to the "apple a day" saying this school year as nationally-mandated school lunch standards take effect.

Beginning in September, the new lunch standards, introduced in January by First Lady Michelle Obama under the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, will be implemented. The standards were created to help fight childhood obesity throughout the nation.

According to a press release from the United States Department of Agriculture, the new meal standards are designed to "make the same kinds of practical changes that many parents are already encouraging at home." This involves the inclusion of fruits, vegetables, whole grain-rich foods, low-calorie foods and foods with reduced amounts of saturated and trans-fats and sodium in students' diets.

Specifically, 50 percent of grains served beginning July 1, 2012, must be whole grain-rich, with the percentage planned to increase to 100 percent within two years. A minimum of 1/2 cup of fruits and vegetables must be taken by students daily and over the next 10 years, total sodium should be reduced by 50 percent in school meals.

“Improving the quality of the school meals is a critical step in building a healthy future for our kids,” USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “When it comes to our children, we must do everything possible to provide them the nutrition they need to be healthy, active and ready to face the future."

This school year will begin a three-year process where schools will have to eventually phase in healthier foods for breakfast meals as well.

What do you think? Are the new school lunch standards necessary? Participate in our poll below then let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Judy's Healthy Snacks August 22, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Our company Judy's Healthy Snacks is a solution to many of your concerns. We are in some of your schools and your kids love our healthy products. We are a local NJ company and we generate needed revenue for the schools we are in with no cost to the school. We take all the risks. If you’d like us in your school, please reply or visit our website and get in touch: Judyshealthysnacks.com
Thirty Four August 22, 2012 at 09:09 PM
I think people who complained in the comments never filled out the lunch order forms. If you are tasked to choose between plain bagel and plain bagel with cream cheese as the only choices for your child for that day of the week for the entire school year, then you realize how unhealthy the kids eat.  Sure we can pack our own lunch (which we did for that day of week), but why not having a minimum standard at school. If they can think that bagels can be for lunch today, soon they will serve a cup of jelly as school approved lunch too. Don't use "bad parenting" argument as an excuse to have bad foods at school. 
DB August 22, 2012 at 09:39 PM
In my school they have gone to "baked chicken patties" aka chicken patties that are warmed up in the oven and not heated in the frier on whole wheat roles and "baked fries" same thing. Check this out in France http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6902333n
Donna August 22, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Seems enough people are interested in helping kids make healthy food choices. Maybe there's a brave, generous soul who can provide videos like Food, Inc., Food Matters, Forks Over Knives, The Drugging of our Children to their school library, and/or have them available for PTA meetings, or Parent Network meetings.
Oldtimer August 22, 2012 at 09:55 PM
The vodka bottle may have to wait a few more minutes, but just pack a lunch for your kid.Problem solved.
Linda Sadlouskos (Editor) August 22, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Dear Oldtimer, It's easy enough to pack a lunch the night before, I agree. My kids get (or one graduated used to get) to buy lunch about once a week, so it really didn't matter that much what they ate. That being said, there should be some level of trust that what you buy in the school cafeteria is relatively wholesome. But I don't like this idea of whole wheat pizza. Leave my ethnic food alone — and the mediterranean diet is one of healthiest -- just use real tomatoes and cheese, not processed stuff!
Maxim Sapozhnikov August 22, 2012 at 10:39 PM
>> Its quite obvious you are racist, and I think you'll be pretty disappointed in November when Romney loses. It's obvious you're a slobbering moron and your race card has been declined due to overuse. Hope you enjoy the sight of Obozo being bodily dragged from the White House in January 2013 while The Mooch gnaws on her last Kobe steak paid by the people.
Jo August 22, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Judy's Healthy Snacks are definitely a step in the right direction. I've eaten some, and have read the labels. BUT, it's important to note that these are SNACKS, and not to replace the main course. Many are hefty in calories, have added sweetener (albeit organic), and barely need chewing. Think Michael Pollan's "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants" and you'll do fine. Also, observe how many steps of processing the main ingredient was subjected to, before it arrived in your kitchen. For example: why not a real, crispy, sweet (not supermarket) apple?
William Mays August 22, 2012 at 10:53 PM
You can't just dismiss this with saying I'm playing the race card. Thats what all of the Republicans say when anyone shows them for who they are. A bunch of racists who can't stand having a black president.
Maxim Sapozhnikov August 22, 2012 at 11:36 PM
>> You can't just dismiss this with saying I'm playing the race card. Thats what all of the Republicans say when anyone shows them for who they are. A bunch of racists who can't stand having a black president. To start with, I'm not a Republican. Here goes your best talking point. Now, please what was the party affiliation of Senator Robert Byrd? Democrats were, and still remain, the party of KKK, they'd just love everyone to forget it.
William Mays August 23, 2012 at 02:53 AM
So? Thats one guy, I think most KKK members are Republicans now.
David August 23, 2012 at 03:09 AM
congratulations on being another nitwit who is clueless political philosophy. You probably think Groucho was the founder of the Marxist movement.
Chrissy August 23, 2012 at 03:56 AM
If mom's and dad's sent their own lunches you wouldn't have a job. Right? If you call canned fruit and veggies that is sitting in a sugar syrup healthy. This is not just about Fresh Fruit and Veggies. It is also about the type of food that is offered. Like popcorn chicken, pizza, hamburgers, chicken patties, hotdogs.... what exactly are these foods made of? Real meat, fresh meat? If you offered real chicken, that would be healthy. If you offered turkey burgers, that would be more healthy. If you offered pizza with a whole grain crust, real tomato sauce, low fat cheese... topped with yummy veggies. How awesome would that be??? How more awesome would it be to have live garden growing in each school. If the kids grow their own fruit and veggies, they are more likely to eat it. And the veggies would cost the school nothing. The food offered in the school cafeteria's need to be completely overhauled. Fresh food from fresh ingredients need to be used. It takes a little more effort then plopping a frozen patty on a baking pan. But at least we will know that the meat is fresh and not something from processed meat byproduct of the leftover carcass of what was once a chicken.
Maxim Sapozhnikov August 23, 2012 at 11:53 AM
>> So? Thats one guy, I think most KKK members are Republicans now. Again, you say "I think" as if it is somehow possible. Naturally, you have no factual ground or statistics to confirm this "thinking" of yours.
John M. August 23, 2012 at 12:59 PM
>>They have never went on vacations abroad. Billy Mays, what language are you writing? It certainly isn't English. BTW, the word "brood" means "children, kids, family, offspring". Please explain the racial connotation in that word or are you the type of race baiter that reverts to the racial card when you cannot think of a cogent response?
Judy's Healthy Snacks August 23, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Thanks for your comments Jo. You are correct some of the snacks are hefty in calories such as clif bar and others. As our buying power increases we are adding (as we speak) even healthier options at reasonable prices, starting immediately this year. As in relation to main courses, we are off setting losses in food service with our revenues to the school. There are specific schools where it is happened as early as last year. To make a point rather than a commercial, there are options and roads to make kids lunches healthier. It requires more voice from parents and kids to the schools. We service many kids and teachers and I can tell you for sure they want to eat healthier. They know a lot more about healthy food than many give them credit for and a lot of that comes from responsible parenting. Parents are making better choices at home.
Laura Damelio August 23, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Getting healthy food in the cafeteria is only going to be effective if EVERY CHILD is allowed to EAT it! How bout we start by making sure EVERY CHILD HAS A LUNCH... Even if you forgot your lunch money or your card is empty.... Let's start there..
Jeanne August 24, 2012 at 04:38 PM
My children are entering the 2nd and 5th grades. They have never bought a school lunch. They've never asked, and I've never offered. I don't have a say in what the schools serve, although I assume my tax dollars are funding it. I appreciate their efforts to improve their offerings. While I can't control outside influences, I do control what I pack for my kids. I know swapping goes on at lunch. I don't even attempt to pack raw veggies, because I know they will not get eaten. I try to provide some whole-grain carbs, protein and applesauce (as I know they will eat that). Beyond that, they get at least 2 vegetables with their dinner, and I add it into breakfast and a snack whenever I can, i.e. pumpkin oatmeal, spinach in a smoothie, (YES they like it , and NO they don't taste the spinach!) I guess my point is that as a parent, I have choices. I choose to educate my children why certain foods are desirable and others are not. I choose what foods to keep in my house. I know that my children will and do make choices for themselves, so if I can empower them to enjoy a broad range of fresh, healthy, unprocessed foods and educated them about ingredients, then I have done what I can. Not everyone has that choice. If a child is going to receive free lunch at his/her school, then we (as a first world country) should prioritize food that is beneficial, not what will make them sick and malnourished in the long run. Not a big fan of the Obamas, but good for Michelle!
Mary Ann August 24, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Really????? I grew up in a large family with little money... but... somehow my parents provided breakfast (at home!! Cherrios, shreded wheat, rice crispies or corn flakes) and a bag lunch to take. Why can't everyone feed their own kids??!! Perhaps get rid of Dish/Cable and cell phones with texting and unlimited minutes?
Linda Sadlouskos (Editor) August 24, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Just as a note here, Bernards Township's school lunch program is self-sustaining — and does not get local tax $ to subsidize. I suspect many other school districts are the same.
Jo August 24, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Mary Ann "I grew up in a large family with little money". I'm glad you brought this up, though the topic is growing much larger and broader than we can address in short & simple responses. "Back in the days", most Moms were home - it was much less of a hassle to prepare lunches. Also, many schools weren't equipped with cafeterias; my huge school only had kiosks where we could buy simple bologna sandwiches (and similar) only, and eat while walking around. Also, the cost of living was in much better alignment with income, the latter having lagged behind considerably in the last 3 decades (except for the rich). My vision for the future isn't small fixes, but a seismic shift. Where healthy food, shelter, health care, employment, etc are respected and treated as human rights deserved by all. With the right intention, this can be accomplished.
Tina B August 24, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Some parents are too lazy to even make their lunches the night before. I just don't get it. I agree with you though, I'll see people crying that they don't have money for some things yet they'll be buying cigarettes, lottery tickets, and getting expensive acrylic manicures. Priorities I guess....
Journey August 24, 2012 at 07:32 PM
I think my mothers generation knew more about managing a home on a budget. For example the home economic classs offered in the 40s and 50s was much different. I learned to sew from her and she made some of my clothes and took a lot in (I was thinner than slim). Budgets were covered. Victory gardens. My grand parents had a garden, my mother had a garden. I have had a grown tomatoes and peppers on balcony. The is enough evidence that junk food is cheap, and not enough info on how go about getting healthy food cheap.
Jo August 24, 2012 at 07:51 PM
It's ironic that before the '50's, ALL food was basically organic. When WWII ended, our government was stuck with a lot of toxic stuff to get rid of. Some, they dumped in the ocean. Other, they tasked scientists to convert to peaceful domestic use. And wallah! We got toxic pesticides and herbicides that could do miraculous things to soil, animals, plants AND food. And our government subsidizes these factory farms by buying some of their surplus and providing it cheap to the public schools.
bb August 25, 2012 at 05:48 AM
The products complete http://www.yessoso.com can supply and demand everyone's choice.
S.G. August 28, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Ms. Urbano did say earlier that she was feeling ill...but, yeah, this was entirely too much infomation.
S.G. August 28, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Max, read this past Sunday's article in the Star-Ledger Parade Magazine about the Romneys. They are home with the family, including grandchildren, making a traditional meal of lobsters and corn. How many Americans are emplyed in the lobster industry?
Maxim Sapozhnikov August 28, 2012 at 03:48 PM
S.G., I don't care a white what Governor Romney or his family eats or how long his vacations are because he pays for it out of his own pocket. On the other hand, when Obozo's brood devour lobsters and Kobe beef by the metric ton and spend millions on luxurious vacations, the taxpayers like you and me wind up with the bill. See the difference now?
dakota September 17, 2012 at 02:15 PM
well im 15yrs old and go to zephyrhills high school in florida and im a huskey boy and when the lunch is 25 cents more yr after yr and the food is constanly decreased and u leave lunch with less money in your account and more room for food in your stomach then were going to go home and eat the tastey un healthy stuff. But if M. Obama would increase the amount of the food u get at school all the while keeping it healthy u we will leave lunch with full stomach happy and ready to learn.
Lost hope November 24, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Mrs Obama is NOT the driving force behind all this dietary change as many of you have given her credit for... The ADA, more formerly known as the AND has been putting a great deal of pressure on dietary changes across the board. Quite honestly I am NOT an Obama fan; however, I do feel that change is grossly necessary in order to avert more of an obesity epidemic...

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