USDA issues new rules to improve health of school lunches

NAACP Supports Comprehensive Federal Program to Reduce Childhood Obesity Epidemic Through Exercise And Improvements in School Lunches

USDA PROPOSAL WOULD REQUIRE MORE FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES AND WHOLE GRAINS

Obesity rates have soared among all age groups, increasing more than four-fold among children ages 6 to 11 over the last 40 years. Currently, 31.8 percent or 23,000,000 children and teenagers ages 2 to 19 are obese or significantly overweight. Sadly, major disparities exist among the obesity rates of children based on race and poverty; for example 38 percent of Mexican-American children and 34.9 percent of African-American children ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese, compared with 30.7 percent of White children and 39.5 percent of low-income American Indian and Alaska Native children ages 2 to 5 who are overweight or obese. 

To begin to address these problems, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed common-sense standards to improve school lunches and breakfasts. Specifically, the USDA is calling on school breakfasts and lunches to:

  • Increase the number of servings of fruits and vegetables served with meals, placing an emphasis on a greater variety of vegetables and fewer starchy foods, like French fries;
  • Ensure all grains served in the school lunch and breakfast programs are rich in whole grains;
  • Serve only milk that is fat-free or low-fat;
  • Lower sodium in meals over time;
  • Ensure schools are regularly reviewed to assess compliance with the new nutrition standards; and
  • Provide training and technical assistance and support nutrition education and promotion efforts, as soon as possible, to help schools implement the meal changes by the start of the 2012 -2013 school year. 

The NAACP strongly supports the USDA proposal as healthy eating in a critical component, along with increased exercise and education of reducing childhood obesity. 

THE USDA NEEDS TO HEAR FROM AS MANY AMERICANS AS POSSIBLE IN SUPPORT OF THEIR PROPOSED STANDARDS BY THE CLOSE OF BUSINESS ON WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13.

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