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Feds Seek Comments on Proposed School Meals Rule

WASHINGTON—The deadline for comments on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposed new comprehensive rules for Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs is April 13, 2011.

The new rules would align school meals with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) and require schools to serve healthier school meals, including more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat free/low-fat milk, and less sodium and saturated fat.

One of the biggest changes for school breakfast would be to double the amount of fruit to 1 cup per day. The greatest change for school lunch would be an increase in fruits and vegetables to nearly four servings a week.

USDA also is seeking comments on ways to incorporate the 2010 Dietary Guidelines into the proposed updated nutrition standards for school meals, which were based on 2005 DGAs. The 2010 DGAs include a new red-orange vegetable subgroup, while the proposed meal patterns include an orange vegetable subgroup and group the red vegetables under the category of other vegetables (consistent with the 2005 DGAs). The proposed meal patterns do reflect the emphasis on consuming a variety of vegetables, which is a key recommendation of the 2005 and 2010 DGAs.

The 2010 DGAs also advise consuming protein from a variety of sources, and recommend weekly

amounts from three protein foods subgroups—seafood; meat, poultry and eggs; and nuts, seeds and soy products. The proposed meal patterns contain weekly and daily amounts of meats/meat alternates, but do not specify amounts for subgroups introduced by the 2010 DGAs.

Commenting on the proposed rules, United Fresh said it supports these elements of the proposed rule, but opposes one significant provision in the proposal that limits starchy vegetables, including white potatoes, corn and peas. That proposal is not aligned with the Dietary Guidelines, and inappropriately restricts a healthy vegetable.

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