Schools must comply with USDA school lunch guidelines by October - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Schools must comply with USDA school lunch guidelines by October 1

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Gone are the days of unhealthy school lunches. Instead, under new U.S. Department of Agriculture requirements, students have a future full of low calorie, low fat foods.

"We know that we eat too many processed foods as Americans and to the extent that we can get schools to be the vehicle for that healthy eating it will make a difference," said the USDA's Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon.

The new standards, signed into law as part of President Obama's Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, require schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program to offer fruits and vegetables each day, increase the amount of whole-grain foods that are served and reduce the amount of sodium and fats found in foods. Milk products can only be fat-free or low fat and students, now, have more of a say.

"Usually they would just put the plates up there and we would pick, but today and this year they just have been asking us what we want," said Woodrow Wilson middle school student Diamond Dumas.

"It's better than before. It tastes better also," said student Valery Ortega.

Schools like Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Youngstown have already complied with the regulations. Schools have until October 1st to meet the requirements, which mark the first overhaul of the school lunch program in more than 15 years.

"All you have to do is just look around, look at the plates and they are happy meal plates, happy faces," said Woodrow Wilson Middle School Principal Jerome Harrell.

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