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New School Year Ushers in Healthier School Days for Kids

As a new school year begins, I’m proud to say that the Obama Administration is taking historic steps to make the school day healthier for kids in schools across the country. I’m excited about the changes showing up in cafeterias this school year – more fruits, vegetables and whole grains; low-fat and fat-free milk choices; and fewer salty and fatty foods.

In addition to those changes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working with parents, teachers and school cafeteria managers to ensure our kids get the right amount of food. Menus are planned for grades K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 and the meals are “right-sized” so that kids get the appropriate amount of calories and the correct portions of different foods.  To further improve menu changes, we’re increasing the focus on reducing the amounts of sodium, saturated fat and trans fats available in those meals.

The improvements we’ve made are the first major changes to school meals in more than 15 years. These changes were much needed and long overdue. That’s why we fought so hard for a strong reauthorization of our child nutrition programs, and it’s why President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act into law in December 2010.  The Act’s provisions allow USDA to feed more hungry kids, raise the standards for nutritious meals, and make the school environment healthier overall.

To get the word out, we’ve created a new web site that shows the many ways the school day will be healthier for our youngsters.  The web site provides information on the improvements USDA is helping to make in school cafeterias, and what kids, parents and educators can expect this fall.

As students return to class, USDA will also continue encouraging healthy lifestyle choices – a key focus of this Administration’s efforts to help our young people thrive. First Lady Michelle Obama has been a champion for healthier lifestyles through her support of the Act and her Let’s Move! initiative. She set a goal of making the next generation healthier than the last. She knew it wouldn’t be easy, and that’s why she emphasized it would take all of us working together to achieve that goal.

As parents, you can help your child’s school continue to be a strong champion of healthier meals and physical activity, whether you are assisting them in starting a garden or helping them to participate in our HealthierUS School Challenge. To complement the changes at schools in your own home, you may consider recommendations from ChooseMyPlate.gov, the web site for MyPlate, our new generation food icon, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. And all of us should remember to spend some active time outdoors each day, while helping our kids do the same.

I know that school is the perfect place for our kids to learn healthy eating habits – and it’s a place where we need to be sure they have the fuel they need to study hard, learn and grow. America’s parents, school districts and local governments have been tremendous partners in our efforts, and today marks the next step in our work together to make the school day healthier for our nation’s children.

18 Responses to “New School Year Ushers in Healthier School Days for Kids”

  1. Lenora Tooher says:

    I’m happy to read this as there will be smarter, fitter and happier humans walking on Earth just because of your efforts (along with the help of others, of course)! Thank you. When I was around 14 I witnessed hyperactivity from a child immediately after a sugary snack was accidently ingested by the child. I knew there was an issue with excess sugar’s effect on behavior. Thankfully the parents were medical doctors visiting our home and they took swift action. Let’s all join our combined intelligence now and move forward-healthfully! Go America!

  2. Lenora Tooher says:

    Naturally, you mean ‘email’ rather than ‘Mail’ above. Small thing but I noticed this and believe me, I haven’t received but a handful of letters in my mailbox for years.
    To the point: I just attended the call in for the kids lunches. It was excellent and I was on mute (this is OK) but want to forward this UP:
    Those workers at the front of the line need to be aware of portion control. Believe me, as a vegetarian you certainly can gain weight! Too many beans can cause weight gain. Too much yogurt can put on extra pounds. I should now as I worked as a Personal Trainer before I went to the USEPA.
    Hopefully you are smiling. Don’t post. Simple send onward. Thnx. Happy 2 Help.:-)Lenora Tooher

  3. Janeal Yancey says:

    I’m a mom, a school board member and a meat scientist and I am very concerned about the changes to the school lunch program. We live in a rural district where over half of our kids are on free and reduced lunch programs. Too many of our kids are going through the school day hungry. They don’t get enough at breakfast and lunch and the nutrients they get don’t provide satiety. I applaud the new emphasis on fruits and vegetables, but the limitations on calories and protein are resulting in unsatisfied kids.
    Kids who get hungry late in the morning because of inadequate breakfasts aren’t going to learn throughout the day. Athletes who participate in after-school events aren’t being provided adequate energy to get them through the day. Kids are hungry and parents are calling the school to say so. Research has shown that protein lengthens eating satisfaction and decreases hunger throughout the day.
    When kids don’t get adequate nutrition from meals, they have to supplement between meals. I’m afraid that this will lead to unhealthy snacks because oftentimes, kids only have access to convenience store foods or junk at home. For those of us with means, it’s easy to say that we can just pack a lunch or send an extra snack for kids. The reality is that not only are school meals the best meal some kids have access to, they may be the ONLY meals they have access to. When we start limiting body-building nutrients like protein and milk fat, we are doing these kids a disservice.
    Again, I am so glad that the USDA is trying to take steps to encourage families to improve eating habits and become healthier, but I don’t think that limiting calories and limiting protein to this extreme are the answer. I know that we have an obesity problem in our country, but we have to also realize that most of our kids are NOT obese. Lots of kids are very active. We need solutions that help ALL the kids. I don’t think those solutions can completely come from DC. We need local involvement. People in the schools know what fits their kids. Let them contribute to the decisions.

  4. cynthia ensign says:

    i am all for healthy eating. yes school lunches are healthier but not hunger free. my child is starving all day long. thanks to mrs. obama i send my child to school and he is starving all day long. he is not any where near being overweight. this is the wrong way to attack obesity in america. it needs to start in the home and not the school.

  5. Aaron says:

    I’m concerned about the lack of protein especially for breakfast. My child eats at home for breakfast and receives more protein in one meal then you allocate for an ENTIRE WEEK! How do you expect a high-school senior male to thrive on such a limited amount of healthy fats and protein? Skim milk is another joke, all the nutrition in milk is IN THE FAT! We, as Americans are consuming LESS milk then ever yest obesity is skyrocketing, hopefully someone at the USDA realizes that we are calcium deficient and calcium metabolizes fat. Did you ever think it’s output not input causing this?

  6. Karra James says:

    I feel that this is wrong and the guidelines being recommended do not meet the needs of active youth. There are still many very active youth who need to receive more calories than these meals will provide.

  7. Amy says:

    I’m all for healthy school lunches, however, when my third grader can’t make it through a few after school errands without crying about being hungry, some portion sizes need to change!

  8. Momof4 says:

    Thank you to the Obama’s for stepping on our farm family. We live in the Midwest and have a small cattle farm along with sheep and pigs. Our kids are very blessed to be able to have more than 5 oz. of protein in a week. Our kids are blessed to be able to learn work ethic on the family farm, which you tried to take away, but with this work ethic they do more so need more calories, they also play soccer and have dance 2-3 nights a week. If our kids were not blessed with more at home, they would be under nourished. I am worried about the kids were the school meals are their only meal. Are they going to bed hungry? Are they eating anything? As for my family and I we do grow and raise most of our food and out of the 6 of us NONE of us are over weight.
    Thank You,
    A worried mom
    PS. Off to make lunches again, our kids were coming home starving from school, that is NOT acceptable!

  9. Janet Grant says:

    I am all for eating healthy. But my 6’4″ 190 pound son who is in marching band and plays football needs more than the 500 calorie lunch the healthy kids act is giving him. His active time includes two hours of marching band and two and a half hours of football practice. He is not getting the fuel he needs to study hard, learn and grow.

  10. Kim Triplett says:

    My children have not been happy with the changes. For example the meal they were offered yesterday, that met all the new guidelines, they would not even eat, so I guess if you not wanting children to eat at all then you go right ahead First Lady.

    I also teach in a school district that is not only a differnt district than my children but different state. I am in a school where the majority of the children recieve free and/or reduced lunch. It is the only heathly meal they might recieve. With that being said, the whole grains are great but the portion size is extremely small for these children who are very hungry. It is extremely sad to tell these children who are 3, 4 and 5 year olds that we have no more food for them.

    I also have friends who have high school students who are active in sports and they say the portions are very small and they are hungry.

    Please send Michelle Obama out to these schools to see first hand what she is doing to these children. Families need to have more education on good food choices and nutrition, it needs to start in the homes. I wonder what she eats and what her children eat, I am sure she is not the one making all the meals and trying to pay for them on a teachers salary, or a salary that is even less.

  11. Mark Jones says:

    I am a high schooler who has had to suffer through these changes. These new healthy act guidlines are a disgrace to America. The politicians talk about the starving Africans and other people without food in other parts of the world, but they do not take into consideration the starving children within our school system. I live in a town where over half of the people who eat school lunch are on free or reduced lunch programs. Almost all of these people are in no way close to obese. For some of these students, school lunch is the only good meal of the day. The new meals do not satisfy me, far from it, I am downright hungry when I finish it. Think about the students who are extremely hungry before lunch. After lunch, they are still hungry. The new lunch program is starving them!

    Another reason this is not a good idea is that most obese kids, at least in our school, do not eat school lunch. And if they did, they do not now because they do not like them and they can eat somewhere else. This is not helping, because most of the times, they choose to fill up at restaurants like McDonalds with extremely fatty foods. This program is contributing to the problem.

    These programs are a disgrace to America, and I hope others see this.

  12. South Dakota Mom says:

    As I once again sent my daughter to school the first thing she asks is what can she take for lunch? She is constantly hungry through out the day due to the new regulations that have been mandated by the USDA. I do not see this as a “win” in any sense of the word. A child that is distracted by hunger does not do well in school. My cousin, who works in the kitchen, says the amount of food being thrown away is enough to make meals for the next day. I have heard of schools not allowing food to come in and then fining parents if the children do not eat the food. At what point do we say “no more”. My daughter is 13, weighs 98lbs, like vegetables, and is still very hungry. So she is not overweight and does eat a balanced diet. Caloric intake is not a “one size fits all” item. each person has different needs. Something needs to change!

  13. Missy Amlong says:

    These changes have been terrible for my children. I have young, growing, and athletic boys that demand a lot of food to function. Because of these changes they are hungry throughout the day because there is not enough protein and substance to the lunch menu to keep them satisfied and thus able to concentrate on their studies. After only two weeks of school I am now having to pack them lunches in order for them to not be hungry and come home and rummage through the cupboards and eat even less healthy items that they were getting before. I am also seriously worried about the children that do not have fit homes and this is the only food they are getting so now they are even hungrier than before. The school’s goals should be to feed the children so they can learn not monitor their food intact to this degree. That is something that should be getting done at home. Not only that, but the prices have gone up and my children are more hungry.

    Thank you Mrs. Obama for another brilliant idea.

  14. Jane Duboff says:

    My kids have neber over-eaten and very healthy. I have a 14 year old girl is 5 feet tall and weights 114 lbs. She is all muscle as she has three-to-four hours a week in extraneous Kung Fu lessons to advance her black belt. She also runs competitively with her High School Cross Country team every day for hours!!

    My other girl eats less and weighs less as she is not that physical. She is 6’5″ and weighs 105.

    Both complain about the lack of food offered in the school cafeteria this year. I am now trying to find and send them to school with high quality calories for my XC Track girl, while making sure my less active girl gets food, too. What a stupid thing!!

    After a lifetime of being a Dem, I may vote Republican this term.. just to get rid of Michelle. I hate Nanny stated.. but nanny Federal government is an insult and needs to be quashed NOW!!

  15. Kim says:

    My kids are coming home saying they are not getting full. This concerns me.
    This new law Obama is doing is starving our children.

  16. Kim Rosene says:

    Also my daughter says they barely get any food, an what they do get she says she throws it in the garbage. Also my son is a football player, he goes straight from school to the field, he is lacking food, because he is not getting enough from the school lunch.
    This is crazy. Something needs to change.

  17. Bob Spurzem says:

    I am in favor of eating healthy, but this is a matter for families to manage and they can have local input in their schools.

    Get real Michelle, you have no business telling our kids what to eat. As a parent of four children, I am doing just fine! I suggest you take care of your kids and I will take care of mine.

    In hind sight, it would be better if you spent our tax payer dollars on your vacations and stop destroying our country.

  18. Rita Palmer says:

    I don’t understand why this new program is a problem. What is wrong with moms and dads packing a protein snack, or two? Children can keep extra snacks in their back packs. Why are they all blaming Michelle Obama, when they can help. Pack a protein snack, or some fruit in that bag.

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