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New USDA nutritional guidelines for school lunch menus taking effect in 2012-2013 school year

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New Agriculture Department guidelines for school lunches will take effect this fall, including the first national calorie and sodium limits for what can be served on lunch lines. A look at what the new guidelines require, according to the School Nutrition Association:

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Grains:

Grades K-5: 8 to 9 servings per week

Grades 6-8: 8 to 10 servings per week

Grades 9-12: 10 to 12 servings per week

Students should have at least one serving of grains each day, and one-half of offerings must be rich in whole grain.

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Meats/Meat alternatives:

Grades K-5: 8 to 10 ounces per week

Grades 6-8: 9 to 10 ounces per week

Grades 9-12: 10 to 12 ounces per week

Nuts, tofu, cheese and eggs can be substituted for meat in some cases.

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Milk:

Grades K-12: 1 cup per day

Fat-free, low-fat and lactose-free milk options are allowable.

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Fruits:

Grades K-8: One-half cup per day

Grades 9-12: One cup per day

Only half of the weekly fruit requirement can come from juice.

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Vegetables:

Grades K-8: Three-quarters cup per day

Grades 9-12: One cup per day

Weekly requirements for vegetable subgroups, including dark green, red/orange, beans/peas, starchy and others.

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Sodium:

By July 2014, sodium levels for lunches should not exceed:

Grades K-5: 640 milligrams

Grades 6-8: 710 milligrams

Grades 9-12: 740 milligrams

A timetable sets targets for further reducing sodium levels by 2022.

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Fats:

No more than 10 per cent saturated fats. No trans-fat, except for those naturally occurring in meat and dairy products.

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Total calories:

Grades K-5: 550 to 650 per day

Grades 6-8: 600 to 700 per day

Grades 9-12: 750 to 850 per day

Calories can be averaged over the week.

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