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School Lunchrooms Required to Meet New Federal Nutrition Standards

November 9, 2012
Dwayne Page

In school lunchrooms in DeKalb County and across the nation, new federal nutrition standards have been implemented intended to cut the fat.

The changes are in response to the epidemic of childhood obesity. A third of young people are now either overweight or obese, according to federal data, and the new lunches are designed to encourage healthier eating habits in the 32 million students nationwide who eat school lunches.

The Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 updated nutrition standards, mandating things such as more whole grains and fruits and vegetables, while limiting fat, sodium and calories. Districts must meet the guidelines to receive federal money for their lunch programs.


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The new nutrition standards for school meals spell out dramatic changes, including slashing sodium, limiting calories and offering students a wider variety and larger portions of fruits and vegetables.

Cindy Cooper, Southeast Regional School Nutrition Consultant for the state, addressed the DeKalb County Board of Education on this issue Thursday night. She said the new regulations took effect July 1st.

The federal government will give schools an additional 6 cents a lunch to meet the standards. When the rules are fully implemented, the cost of preparing a healthier lunch that meets the new rules is estimated to rise by about 11 cents, and the cost of preparing a breakfast is estimated to increase by 28 cents, the USDA says. The agency estimates that the increased cost of producing meals that meet the standard will be $3.2 billion over five years

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