Education

Back To School: What Students Can Expect To Eat Under New Healthy School Lunch Guidelines

COMMERCIAL IMAGE- In this photograph taken by AP Images for Uncle Ben's, New York City schoolchildren prepare a healthy meal at the kick-off of the Uncle Ben’s Ben's Beginners Cooking Contest, Wed., Jan. 18, 2012, in New York. The competition challenges parents to cook a kid-friendly rice dish with their child (ages 5-12) for a chance to win $20,000, an appearance on “The Rachael Ray Show” and a cafeteria makeover for their child’s school. Learn more at www.bensbeginnerscontest.com. (Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Uncle Ben’s)
COMMERCIAL IMAGE- In this photograph taken by AP Images for Uncle Ben's, New York City schoolchildren prepare a healthy meal at the kick-off of the Uncle Ben’s Ben's Beginners Cooking Contest, Wed., Jan. 18, 2012, in New York. The competition challenges parents to cook a kid-friendly rice dish with their child (ages 5-12) for a chance to win $20,000, an appearance on “The Rachael Ray Show” and a cafeteria makeover for their child’s school. Learn more at www.bensbeginnerscontest.com. (Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Uncle Ben’s)

New U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for school lunches are taking effect this fall, as part of a healthy school lunch initiative put forth in January by first lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Officials are calling for more whole grains and produce -- now implementing the first national calorie and sodium limits for what can be served in school cafeterias -- as well as less fat in meals.

School lunch workers gathered at the School Nutrition Association conference in Denver this summer to share tricks on how to get students to make healthy choices in the lunch line.

The new guidelines also require that schools offer dark green, orange or red vegetables at least once a week, and students must choose at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal. Trans fats are banned from service, and any flavored milk offered must be fat-free.

A look at what the new guidelines require, according to the School Nutrition Association:

New School Lunch Guidelines Effective Fall 2012