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New school lunch rules push vegetables
New USDA guidelines call for students to have at least one fruit or vegetable on their plates for school meals. - photo by Stock photo

It doesn’t come as a surprise that fruits and vegetables are an important yet sometimes lacking component of most meals children consume.
Our children expect to go to school to learn reading, writing and arithmetic but what about good nutritional habits?
Beginning this school year there are new USDA guidelines that have been put in place to give kids even healthier breakfasts and lunches. These guidelines are to ensure the meals that are being consumed are healthy and well-balanced and provide all the nutrition a child will need to succeed at school.
The biggest and probably most noticeable change for the children will be that their trays have to contain at least one fruit or vegetable.
“We encourage students to take both,” Liberty County School Nutrition Director Chris Reddick said.
Reddick said students will have a greater selection and variety of fruits and vegetables to chose from. Now during lunch, the schools will offer three-fourths to a cup of vegetables as well as a half to one cup of fruit per day instead of the previous half to three-fourths cup combined.
The new requirement for breakfast went from a half cup to a cup of fruit per day with vegetable substitutions allowed.
The healthiest vegetables will be emphasized more often with weekly offerings of dark green, red and orange vegetables as well as beans and other legumes.
In addition to fruit and vegetable requirements, whole-grain intake has increased. At least 50 percent of all grain foods served will be whole-grain rich, and within two years all of the served grains will be whole-grain rich.
Meals will average fewer than 10 percent calories from saturated fat, and every item will contain zero grams per serving of trans fat.
Fat-free unflavored, 1 percent unflavored and fat-free flavored milks will be the only milk served.
Under the new guidelines, sodium-limiting standards will be implemented until a final maximum of 740 miligrams of sodium per meal is met.
Reddick said that these changes will take some getting used to but you have to stay positive.

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