What Do the New Nutrition Standards Mean for School Lunch?

September 11, 2012 | Written By:

As kids across the country head back to school this month, they’re finding something new in the cafeteria: healthier school meals shaped by updated nutrition standards. This year, the USDA updated the nutrition standards it sets for school meals for the first time in more than 15 years. (For more on how these standards came about, check out HSC’s blog.)

What do the new standards mean for the lunches kids see on their trays? The highlights: more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains and age-appropriate portion sizes.

We’ve created a new infographic that shows the new standards in a simple format. Take a look and let us know what you think! Click the image below to check out the new infographic.


In addition to the changes we’re seeing in the cafeteria this year, the new nutrition standards include changes that schools can phase in over the next several years.  The years ahead will bring even more whole grains (by 2014, all grains served in school lunch will be rich in whole grains) and less sodium.

For more information about the updated standards and what they mean for school lunch, visit the USDA’s Healthier School Day site or check out this detailed comparison chart [pdf].

Throughout this week, we’ll be featuring more perspectives and insight on the new nutrition standards. Stay posted for more!

Plus: Share your tray! The graphic HSC created represents one way the new nutrition standards could be put in action. What do the new standards look like in your school? Show us a picture of your school lunch! Tweet your photos to @healthyschools or tag Healthy Schools Campaign on Facebook.

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