Even having precise limits for the amount of salt, starch and calories in school lunches seems a little silly to me philosophically (what if they just cooked real food and left it at that?), but this is a solid step forward just the same:
Among the requirements for school meals outlined in the proposed rule:
•Decrease the amount of starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn and green peas, to one cup a week.
•Reduce sodium in meals over the next 10 years. A high school lunch now has about 1,600 milligrams of sodium. Through incremental changes, that amount should be lowered over the next decade to 740 milligrams or less of sodium for grades through 9 through 12; 710 milligrams or less for grades 6 through 8; 640 milligrams or less for kindergarten through fifth grades.
•Establish calorie maximums and minimums for the first time. For lunch: 550 to 650 calories for kindergarten through fifth grade; 600 to 700 for grades 6 through 8; 750 to 850 for grades 9 through 12.
•Serve only unflavored 1% milk or fat-free flavored or unflavored milk. Currently, schools can serve milk of any fat content.
•Increase the fruits and vegetables kids are offered. The new rule requires that a serving of fruit be offered daily at breakfast and lunch and that two servings of vegetables be offered daily at lunch.Over the course of a week, there must be a serving of each of the following: green leafy vegetables, orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, summer squash), beans, starchy and other vegetables. This is to make sure that children are exposed to a variety of vegetables.
• Increase whole grains substantially. Currently, there is no requirement regarding whole grains, but the proposed rules require that half of grains served must be whole grains.
•Minimize trans fat by using products where the nutrition label says zero grams of trans fat per serving.