USDA releases final meal pattern regulations for schools

Proposal offers students fruits and vegetables every day.

Jan. 25—The U.S. Department of Agriculture released the final meal pattern regulations for school meals, as set forth by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

“This is a red-letter day for American children,” Kevin Concannon, USDA under secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, said in a conference call.

The final proposals include:

• Offering students fruits and vegetables every day

• Increasing the amount of whole-grain-rich foods

• Offering only fat-free or low-fat milk

• Limiting calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion sizes

• Increasing the focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium

Some of the changes in the final proposals include eliminating the meat/meat alternative requirement for breakfast and allowing the offer versus serve policy that many districts currently use. Under the final rules, the reimbursable lunch selected by students must include a fruit or a vegetable, beginning in school year 2012-2013. However, students may take ½ cup of fruit or vegetable, rather than a full component, to make a reimbursable meal under offer versus serve. For example, a school can offer ½ cup of fruit pieces and ½ cup of fruit juice to meet the 1 cup of fruit requirement. A student must select at least one of those two items to have a reimbursable meal under offer versus serve.

Concannon said the final meal pattern should cost $3.2 billion to implement during the next five years, nearly half what was originally estimated at $6.8 billion. The reduction is because of the changes to the breakfast requirements, including the elimination of the meat/meat alternative component, reduction in the amount of whole grain and vegetables offered and the additional time to implement changes to the school breakfast program. The only immediate change that needs to be implemented to the breakfast program is offering only fat-free or low-fat milk options. All other requirements will be phased in starting in the 2013-2014 school year.

Check back to Foodservicedirector.com tomorrow for additional information about the final meal pattern regulations. Have something to say about the finalized rules? Tell me what you think at bschilling@cspnet.com

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

K-12 foodservice participating in federal nutrition programs soon could fall into some extra cheese. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is set to buy 11 million pounds of cheese to raise plummeting prices, the result of a dairy glut. The acquired product will be distributed to federal nutrition programs, which might include WIC, SNAP and Child Nutrition Programs, and food banks.

The purchase falls short of a call from Congress, unions, special interest groups and commodity organizations for a $150 million buyout of dairy assets to mitigate the 35% drop in dairy revenues—a 30-year...

Ideas and Innovation
cardboard takeout box

The death knell keeps ringing for polystyrene containers. A story Monday in the Chicago Tribune reports that a man who provided free recycling for the foam products in 10 area communities is shutting down his services, citing expense and logistical difficulties, and leaving few options for diverting the material from landfills.

“From a business perspective, there is no market for [recycled polystyrene foam]. It's difficult to sell,” Beth Lang, facilities and general services manager at the Recycling Drop-Off Center in Naperville, Ill., told the Tribune. “The second reason, and more...

Industry News & Opinion

Students at Martin Luther College will be able to cook their own food in the cafeteria this year, thanks to the addition of a new self-cook station installed during the cafeteria’s renovation, The Journal reports.

In addition to the self-cook station, which contains induction cookers, the revamped cafeteria at the New Ulm, Minn., school will include new pizza equipment, a panini grill, tiled floors, poured countertops and new arrangements to make the cafeteria appear more open.

"We wanted to make it look more like a restaurant and not like a cafeteria," Director of Dining...

Industry News & Opinion

Two chefs at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., are trying to help solve the Mars food dilemma, myfoxspokane.com reports .

Just outside the school’s cafeteria, Executive Chef Timothy Grayson and his partner, Christine Logan-Travis, are trying their hand at growing tomatoes, oregano, basil and other plants in Martian Regolith Soil, the closest soil on Earth to that found on the fourth planet from the sun.

All of the plants in the Mars-inspired garden are intended for human consumption.

“It is a reality that at some point, if man goes to Mars, they will need to...

FSD Resources