US farm officials on Friday proposed new nutrition standards for school meals, including the first limits on added sugarswith a focus on sweetened foods like cereals, yogurt, flavored milk, and breakfast pastries.
The plan announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also attempts to significantly reduce sodium in food served to the nation’s students by 2029, while easing the rules for foods made with whole grains.
The objective is improve diet and align with dietary recommendations in the program that serves breakfast to more than 15 million children and lunch to nearly 30 million children every day, Vilsack says.
“School meals turn out to be foods with the highest nutritional value of any food that children can consume outside of school,” Vilsack said in an interview.
The first limits for added sugars will be required for the 2025-2026 school yearstarting with foods high in sugar such as sweetened cereals, yogurts, and flavored milks.
Under the plan, an 8-ounce (236-milliliter) chocolate milk, for example, may not contain more than 10 grams of sugar. Some popular flavored milks now contain twice that amount. The plan also limits sugary grain desserts, such as cupcakes or donuts, to no more than twice a week for breakfast.
By the end of 2027, added sugars in school meals be limited to less than 10% of total calories per week at breakfasts and lunches.
The school proposal will also reduce sodium in foods by 30% by the end of 2029. It will gradually be reduced to align with federal guidelines, which recommend that Americans 14 and older limit sodium to about 2,300 milligrams a day, and less. than that for younger children.