USDA updates school nutrition guidelines for 1st time in decade

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For the first time in a decade, the United States Department of Agriculture has updated the school nutrition standards.

The new guidelines include changes to sodium, whole grains and milk standards. The USDA detailed the changes in a Feb. 4 release:

  • Milk: Schools and child care providers serving participants ages six and older may offer flavored low-fat (1%) milk in addition to nonfat flavored milk and nonfat or low-fat unflavored milk;
  • Whole Grains: At least 80% of the grains served in school lunch and breakfast each week must be whole grain-rich; and
  • Sodium: The weekly sodium limit for school lunch and breakfast will remain at the current level in SY 2022-2023. For school lunch only, there will be a 10% decrease in the limit in SY 2023-2024. This aligns with the U.S Food and Drug Administration’s recently released guidance that establishes voluntary sodium reduction targets for processed, packaged, and prepared foods in the U.S.

The other nutrition standards, including things like fruit and vegetables requirements, are staying the same.

Shanthi Appelo is a registered dietician and the health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. She says the changes are a great step in the right direction to making sure kids get the nutrition they need.

For the full conversation with Shanthi Appelo, watch the video in the player above.