First lady pushes healthier school lunches

Jan. 25, 2012 at 9:39 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- First lady Michelle Obama and Tom Vilsack, agriculture secretary, said Wednesday 32 million U.S. children will have healthier choices for their school lunch.

"As parents, we try to prepare decent meals, limit how much junk food our kids eat, and ensure they have a reasonably balanced diet," Obama said at a news conference. "And when we're putting in all that effort the last thing we want is for our hard work to be undone each day in the school cafeteria. When we send our kids to school, we expect that they won't be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we try to keep them from eating at home. We want the food they get at school to be the same kind of food we would serve at our own kitchen tables."

The healthier meal requirements are a key component of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a law the first lady championed as part of her Let's Move! campaign to fight child obesity.

The USDA's new rules were based on recommendations from experts convened by the Institute of Medicine. They were updated by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

After receiving an unprecedented 132,000 public comments on the proposed standards, the final standards call for:

-- Offering both fruit and vegetables daily.

-- More whole grain-rich foods.

-- Only fat-free or low-fat milk.

-- Limiting calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size.

-- Reducing saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.

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