WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- A U.S. government rule calls for school lunches to reduce levels of saturated fat, sodium, calories and trans fats, officials say.
U.S. Department of Agriculture published the proposed rule as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which is designed to raise standards for the first time in 15 years and improve nutrition for nearly 32 million students who participate daily in school meal programs.
The proposed rule changes, which also include adding more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat milk to school meals, are based on recommendations released in October 2009 by the National Academies' Institute of Medicine and in the report, "School Meals: Building Blocks for Healthy Children."
"The United States is facing an obesity epidemic and the crisis of poor diets threatens the future of our children -- and our nation," Tom Vilsack, secretary of agriculture says in a statement.
"With many children consuming as many as half their daily calories at school, strengthening nutritional standards is an important step in the Obama administration's effort to combat childhood obesity and improve the health and well being of all our kids."
The USDA seeks the input of the public and those interested in reviewing the proposal and offering comments are encouraged to do so at the Web site www.regulations.gov by April 13.