School cafeterias will be serving more-nutritious meals with twice as many fruits and vegetables, more whole grains and less sodium and fat under new guidelines that will revamp the federally backed school meals program for the first time in 15 years.

The meals will continue to include pizza and french fries because Congress, after heavy lobbying from the food industry, derailed the Obama administration’s original plan to limit tomato paste and starchy vegetables such as potatoes.
First Lady Michelle Obama joined Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and celebrity chef Rachael Ray Wednesday at an elementary school in Alexandria, Virginia to launch a major nutritional overhaul of school lunch meals. (Jan. 25)

Even so, consumer groups hailed the changes as a major improvement over the current standards, echoing remarks by first lady Michelle Obama when she unveiled the new nutrition rules Wednesday at Parklawn Elementary School in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County.

“When we send our kids to school, we expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we try to keep them from eating at home,” said Obama, who has championed efforts to combat childhood obesity.

Under the guidelines, which cover breakfast and lunch, schools that participate in the federal program must offer a mix of fruits and vegetables daily and offer double as much as currently required. In return, the schools get a federal subsidy on the cost of the food.
Schools also must offer only fat-free and low-fat milk, limit calories based on the age group served, gradually lower the amount of sodium in meals, and stop serving foods or ingredients that have trans fat.

As the Agriculture Department was crafting the final guidelines, opponents raised concerns about the program’s estimated $6.8 billion price tag over the next five years and the financial burdens it would place on school districts.

Oh boo fricken Hoo; maybe the USDA should subsidize organic fruits and vegetables and small farmers instead of the meat and dairy (milk & cheese) of their rich factory farm lobbiest friends and then the schools would not have to worry about "increased costs" for teaching children what good nutrition looks like.
See Marion's blog at food politics for reasons why crumbs are better than nothing here....
"The new standards come pretty close to what the IOM recommended (see the earlier chart), with some now-famous exceptions. The IOM proposed limits on starchy vegetables. USDA then proposed to limit starchy vegetables to two servings a week. It also set a minimum for the amount of tomato sauce on pizza that could count toward vegetable servings.

Under pressure from potato growers and suppliers of school pizza, Congress weighed in and overruled the USDA on both counts.

The result: pizza now counts as a vegetable.

To give some idea of the extent of lobbying on all sides of this issue, USDA’s January proposal elicited 132,000 public comments (these are someplace at and are addressed in the Federal Register notice).

I asked in a previous post whether this kind of congressional micromanagement made sense (absolutely not, in my view). I also wrote previously about the intense lobbying efforts to make sure these standards would never be released.

Despite congressional and industry opposition, the standards are out.
Applause is very much in order for Mrs. Obama’s leadership on this issue.
Good work. Now let’s get busy on the next challenges:
  • Set nutrition standards for competitive foods in schools—those sold outside of the lunch program as snacks and meal replacements.
  • Teach kids where food comes from
  • Teach kids to cook"