U.S. tweaks lunch menus to encourage healthy eating at schools

     (Toby Talbot/AP Photo, file)

    (Toby Talbot/AP Photo, file)

    As schools throughout the region reopen, returning students will find some differences in the cafeteria.

    A healthier federal school lunch program will mean changes for students, said Kevin Concannon, undersecretary for food nutrition and consumer service with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    “For the first time we have minimum and maximum calorie requirements for schools — based on the age of the student and a requirement that each school day, in the main meal at noontime, the schools must serve fruits and vegetables,” Concannon said.

    Concannon said that means modifying menus to include a new take on some student favorites.

    “Before, a very popular food with students would be pizza,” he said. “Well now, if they are going to serve pizza, they have to serve whole-grain pizza. If they serve milk it has to be 1-percent or if it’s flavored milk, it has to be fat-free.”

    As the federal government is spending more money to establish the guidelines for healthier meals, the goal is to change eating habits at school.

    The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day.

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