USDA Announces New Breakfast and Lunch Guidelines

The United States Department of Agriculture announced changes to the School Lunch and Breakfast program Wednesday, January 25th. This is the first major change to the lunch and breakfast program in 15 years. Implementation of most meal requirements in the National School Lunch Program will begin school year 2012-13. In the School Breakfast Program, meal requirements will be implemented gradually beginning school year 2013-14.

The new regulations closely align with HealthierUS School Challenge guidelines to incorporate more varieties of fruit, dark green and orange vegetables, dry beans and/or peas, whole grains and low-fat and fat-free milk.

Opaa! menus are designed to meet the school meals component of HealthierUS School Challenge. Our menus reflect good menu planning principles, such as serving a variety of healthier foods that look good, taste good and appeal to the cultural sensitivities of our school and community populations. Opaa! menus have been created to provide students a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, dry beans and whole grains. Opaa! continues to serve only low-fat and fat-free milk and milk products.

While additional fruit, vegetable and grain servings will be required with the new regulations, the changes Opaa! has made in recent years position our clients well to be in full compliance for school year 2012.

Highlights of changes to the School Lunch Program:

  • Fruit – More daily servings of fruit will be offered
  • Vegetables – More daily servings of vegetables will be offered to include vegetables from subgroups of dark green, red/orange, beans/peas, starchy vegetables and other vegetables as defined in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • Meat/Meat Alternate – New daily minimums and weekly ranges have been set for three age/grade groups K-5, 6-8 and 9-12.
  • Whole Grains – At least half the grains offered must be whole grain rich beginning school year 2012. Beginning school year 2014, all grains offered must be whole grain rich.
  • Milk – Must be fat-free (unflavored/flavored) or 1% low fat (unflavored). Beginning school year 2012, all flavored milk served must be fat free.

Highlights of changes to the School Breakfast Program:

  • Fruit – More daily servings of fruit will be offered with a vegetable
    substitution allowed.
  • Grains & Meat/Meat Alternates – A new daily minimum and weekly ranges for grains and meat/meat alternates have been set for three age/grade groups K-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Schools may substitute Meat/Meat Alternate after the minimum daily grain requirements
    are met.
  • Whole Grain – At least half of the grains offered must be whole grain-rich beginning school year 2013. Beginning school year 2014, all grains offered must be whole grain rich.
  • Milk – Must be fat-free (unflavored/flavored) or 1% low fat (unflavored). Beginning school year 2012, all flavored milk served must be fat free.

Dietary specifications (to be met on average over a week) have been set for calories, fat, trans fat and sodium. Calorie ranges for minimum and maximum targets have been set based on three age/grade groups K-5, 6-8, 7-12. The target for saturated fat remains unchanged, while the new target for trans fat is zero grams per portion, other than naturally occurring trans fat. Sodium targets will be more gradual, phasing in over a 10 year period of time.