School Lunch Changes Mean Fewer Animal Crackers and No Canned Fruits

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No more animal crackers for iron at your kid's cafeteria. In the first overhaul of school food in 15 years, all schools must be in compliance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's school food rules by July 1. Florida schools have prepped for the changes by switching control of the school lunch program from the state Department of Education to the Department of Agriculture.

The regulations touted by First Lady Michelle Obama will ensure a doubling of and greater variety of fruits and vegetables; more whole-grain foods; calorie adjustments such as nixing sugar-laden canned fruits; lower saturated fats, trans fats, and sodium; and the elimination of the sale of whole milk.

In the before-and-after menu provided as an example from the USDA, a preregulation lunch would be a 5.3-ounce bean and cheese burrito with 1-ounce mozzarella cheese; 1/4 cup apple sauce; 4-ounce orange juice, and 8-ounce glass of 2 percent milk. An after reg lunch is an ounce of turkey and .5-ounce low-fat cheese with mustard and mayo on a whole-wheat roll; 1/2 cup refried beans; 1/4 cup green pepper strips; 1/4 cup jicama (yes, jicama); 1/2 cup cantaloupe; and an 8-ounce glass of skim milk.

Though the regulations that have been in the works for the past couple of years will raise the quality of school lunches, some rules stretch the bounds of common sense, such as the one that deems pizza sauce as a vegetable serving.

The total cost of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act will be $3.2 billion over five years, which some critics note will not cover the food and labor costs of the changes, which may result in dipping into classroom funds to pay for the price hike.


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