'Food, Inc.' Fans Helped Change National School Lunch Policy

Thanks in part to the Food, Inc. community, the USDA has an ambitious new agenda for school lunches.

healthy cafeteria school lunches
Thanks in part to action by Food, Inc. fans, kids are going to eat better at school. (Photo: Tooga/Getty Images)
Nichol Nelson has worked in national digital and print publications in both New York and Los Angeles.

If you supported the Food, Inc. social action campaign, school kids definitely owe you one. Thanks in part to action by our Food, Inc. community, the Child Nutrition Reauthorization act passed in 2010. And today, as a part of that bill, ambitious new nutrition guidelines for school meals were unveiled. It's a move that will significantly impact our nation's youth.

The act mandates that America’s school-aged children get twice the amount of fruits and vegetables than they're currently receiving in their meals. That's a huge leap forward, and impacts a stunning number of children: About 32 million children eat school lunches and breakfasts, and school meals account for half of many children’s daily calories, according to USDA. The guidelines also require more whole grains, and less sodium and trans fat.

“The new school meal standards are one of the most important advances in nutrition in decades,” said Margo G. Wootan, nutrition policy director for Center for Science in the Public Interest. “They’re much needed, given high childhood obesity rates and the poor state of our children’s diets."

Food, Inc., produced by our parent company, Participant Media, hosted a petition that garnered 250,000 signatures. They also held a lobby day in D.C., in addition to educating the public via email and facebook over the past couple of years regarding the CNR and these specific new USDA standards.

These new lunch standards aren't the end of the sweeping changes. In the coming months, the USDA will set nutrition standards for the other foods sold in schools, from sodas in vending machines to cookies and snacks hawked in the cafeteria.

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