USDA issues new rules for school meals

January 25, 2012
By Madison Park, CNN
updated 1:51 PM EST, Wed January 25, 2012

(CNN) — School meals will have to offer fruits and vegetables to students every day under standards issued by the United States Department of Agriculture on Wednesday.

The meal programs, which feed about 32 million students in public and private schools, will have to reduce sodium, saturated fat and trans fats. Schools must also offer more whole grains as well as fat-free or low-fat milk varieties.

These standards go into effect July 1 and will be phased in over a three-year period, according to the USDA.

The new nutrition standards are largely based on recommendations by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, as part of efforts to curb childhood obesity. Recent numbers show that about 17% of children in the United States are obese.

Under the new rules, school meals will have calorie minimums and maximums per meal based on the child’s age. For kindergarteners to fifth-graders, meals must contain 550 to 650 calories, and for 9th- to 12th-graders, meals must have 450 to 600 calories.

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To view the USDA’s Weekly Sample Lunch Menu with a before and after comparison, visit:

SNAP Redemptions at Farmers Markets Exceed $11 Million in 2011

January 18, 2012

By Natalie Roper, FMC Research & Education Intern (Farmers Market Coalition) 

Many readers may recall the article SNAP Sales Soar, published in the spring edition of the market beet, in which FMC reported on the increases in SNAP redemptions since 2009, when SNAP state by state statistics were first published in Real Food, Real Choice: Connecting SNAP Recipients with Farmers Markets. Here we look at the exciting growth in 2011 and the opportunity for 2012.

In the past five fiscal years, the number of farmers markets and direct marketing farmers authorized to accept SNAP has increased 360%, and 52% between 2010 and 2011 alone.  According to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Benefits Redemption Division, there were 2,445 farmers markets and individual direct marketing farmers authorized to accept SNAP, as of September 30th, 2011.   Editor’s note: unless noted otherwise, a “year” refers to federal fiscal year, defined as October 1 through September 30 of the next year.

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