The goal is to improve global nutrition and align with dietary guidelines with the highest nutritional value of any food children can obtain outside of the home.
The first limits are foods with a high sugar content such as sweetened cereals, yogurts and flavored milks. The plan also limits sugary grain desserts, such as muffins or donuts, to no more than twice a week for breakfast.
The proposal would also reduce sodium in school meals by 30%. They would be gradually reduced to align with the guidelines, which recommend that those 14 and older limit sodium to about 2,000 milligrams per day, with less for younger children. .
The levels would drop, for example, from an average of about 1,280 milligrams of sodium now allowed per child’s lunch to about 935 milligrams. For comparison, a typical turkey sandwich with mustard and cheese might contain 1,500 milligrams of sodium.
Health experts say cutting back on sugar and salt can help lower children’s risk of diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and other problems that often continue into adulthood.
As part of the plan, 80% of all grains offered in a week should be required to be whole. This would allow schools to serve non-whole foods, such as white flour tortillas, or arepa one day a week to vary their menus. Another option suggests serving unflavored skim and low-fat milk to younger children and reserving chocolate and other flavored milks for middle school children.