Vilsack defends new USDA school nutrition guidelines

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack argued that lowering nutrition standards would harm students who depend on the program's meals.

WASHINGTON–U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack lashed out Thursday against critics seeking to weaken the country's nutrition standards for school lunches, arguing that changes to the successful program would harm millions of students who depend on the meals.

The USDA has phased in new nutrition guidelines for school meals to address the childhood obesity epidemic and to help those at risk of going hungry, boosting whole-grain requirements, lowering sodium levels and setting limits for calories.

An estimated 31 million students, including 384,000 in Iowa, participate in the school lunch program.