01/25/2012 - Hoping to combat the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, the Obama administration on Wednesday announced its long-awaited changes to government-subsidized school meals, a final round of rules that adds more fruits and green vegetables to breakfasts and lunches and reduces the amount of salt and fat.
The announcement came months after the food industry won a vote in Congress to block the administration from carrying out an earlier proposal that would have reduced starchy foods like potatoes and prohibited schools from counting a small amount of tomato paste on a slice of pizza as a vegetable. Under the latest rules, potatoes are not restricted, and tomato paste can qualify as a vegetable serving.
The rules were announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Michelle Obama at Parklawn Elementary School, in Alexandria, Va.
Nutrition experts praised the new standards.
“We applaud the U.S. Department of Agriculture for issuing final guidance to help schools across the country serve healthier meals to students,” said Jessica Donze Black, project director for the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, a joint project of the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The updated nutrition standards for school meals are now in line with the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the federal government’s evidence-based guidance to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases and decrease the prevalence of obesity.”
Read the full article, New School Lunch Rules Aimed at Reducing Obesity, on the New York Times' Web site.