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School Meals Need to Get Healthier: Report
Date:10/20/2009

about children being hungry and undernourished," she said. "Now we have to worry both about that safety net for children who may not have enough food, but also balance it with a food supply that will prevent the school meals from contributing to the obesity problem."

In the past, there had only been a minimum calorie amount, Stallings said. "What the committee is now recommending is a minimum and a maximum," she said.

The report on healthy school meals suggests lunches contain no more than 650 calories for students in grades kindergarten through five; 700 calories for children in grades six to eight, and 850 for those in grades nine to 12. Breakfast calories should not exceed 500, 550 and 600, respectively, for these grade groups.

To ease the adjustment to lower salt meals, the report calls for reducing sodium over the next decade from today's average of 1,600 milligrams per lunch to 740 milligrams.

In addition, breakfasts should contain one cup of fruit, and lunches for grades nine to 12 should also contain one cup of fruit. No more than half of the fruit should come from juice, the report says.

Vegetable offerings should increase to three-quarters of a cup a day for grades kindergarten through eight, and one cup a day for grades nine to 12. Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, should be served less often, and at least half a cup each of green leafy vegetables, orange vegetables and legumes should be provided each week, the report said.

For grains, half of the breads and pasta should be whole grain, Stallings said. Milk served with school meals should be skim or 1 percent fat, she added.

Meat with lunches should be kept to about two ounces for all grades, but can be higher for students in high school. For breakfast, meat should be kept to about one ounce a day for children in kindergarten through grade eight, and two ounces for high school students, the report noted.

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