This analysis has been updated. Read Five Facts About School Meal Programs.
- Nearly one in three children in our country is overweight or obese. With many children consuming up to half their daily calories at school, one of the most important steps we can take to improve their health is to make sure school meals are nutritious.
- Under updated school meal nutrition standards in place this year, children are getting more fruits, vegetables and whole grains on their cafeteria trays. Meals will also include more low-fat and non-fat dairy products and less fat and sodium.
- These improved guidelines also make sure that schools meals are healthy and "right-sized" for kids based on their age, so they're not being served excessive amounts of empty calories.
- Before the update, high schools were offering an average of 857 calories to students at lunch. The new limit of 850 calories per meal means that most high-school students are getting the same amount of calories at lunch—they're just getting them from healthier foods.
- Improved guidelines also help parents know that schools are offering healthy foods. They provide a baseline to ensure that meals served in schools all across the nation are nutritious. Specific decisions, including what's on the menu, what recipes are used, how often foods are served and how meals are presented, still are decided at the local level.