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USDA Tweaks New Lunch Rules To Allow More Meats, Grains

 

Federal guidelines for school lunches are changing again.

Following criticism from students, parents, school administrators and lawmakers about the new rules that took effect this school year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has decided to allow more meat and grains in kids' meals. 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told members of Congress in a letter Friday that the USDA will eliminate daily and weekly maximums of meats and grains.

Sturgeon Bay School District Food Service Director Sandy Andre says among other things, the changes mean she may be able to bring the "sub bar" back for the middle schoolers.

Andre says the sub bar may or may not include tortilla chips. She says because there are both daily and weekly limits for calories, she's got to make sure that a certain food item doesn't put them over the top of what's allowed.  

"It's still going to be a lot of figuring but it's going to give us some more leeway," says Andre.

Andre says the most frequent complaint she's heard from students so far this year hasn't been about the amount of food but what type of food they're required to take. 

The new guidelines -- established to address the increase in childhood obesity -- set limits on calories and salt, phase in the use of whole grains, and require schools to offer at least one vegetable or fruit per meal.

Andre says the revamped guidelines are to be in effect through the end of the school year but she says it remains to be seen if the same guidelines will be used next year.    

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