The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

School Lunch Gets a Fresh Start for Back to School 2012

School Lunch Gets a Fresh Start for Back to School 2012

Health and Wellness

July 29, 2012

When students return to school this fall, they’ll find more healthy choices in the lunch line.  

Starting this summer, school meals must meet new federal nutrition standards requiring more whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and less sodium and calories. Every school meal will come with fat free or 1% milk to provide the calcium kids need for strong bones, and lunch entrees will meet strict limits on saturated and trans fats. Cafeterias will serve a wider variety of vegetables each week, including vitamin packed choices like broccoli, sweet potatoes and red pepper strips, and more fiber-rich beans and legumes.  

School cafeteria professionals are working hard to make all this good nutrition taste good too. This summer thousands gathered in Denver, Colorado for School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference where they taste tested healthy new foods and beverages for school cafeterias. The exhibit hall featured 850 booths showcasing choices from fat-free yogurt parfaits to unsweetened pear sauce and reduced sodium Asian stir fry. 

Exhibitors offered a variety of produce, including single-serve packages of sliced fresh fruits and vegetables for students on-the-go and 100% fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies. The aisles were filled with whole grain rich foods like whole wheat pretzels, pancakes and crackers, and school nutrition professionals sampled lower sodium foods too – from reduced sodium turkey sausage for breakfast to lower-sodium salsa and pasta sauce for lunch. Food companies also offered kid favorites made healthy like pizza made with whole grain crust, low fat cheese and reduced sodium sauce.

Conference attendees flocked to Culinary Demonstrations highlighting innovative, nutritious recipes including Roast Asian Style Chicken, and to education sessions on topics ranging from farm to school programs to food safety.

Visit your school cafeteria this fall to see all these healthy, tasty trends on display in the lunch line! Parents can also visit for more information on school meals.