USDA announces healthier school lunches

First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at lunch today with school kids at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Va. They were there to promote new school lunch guidelines that include healthier foods and will hopefully help to battle obesity in American youth.

The Pulse is up today on news that U.S. school kids will be eating green foods during the school day that don’t start with the word “gummy.”

With a third of American school kids categorized as “obese,” guidelines for the first overhaul of school lunches in 15 years were announced by the USDA today. As more and more Americans slip closer to the dreaded poverty line, there’s a growing population of students eating subsidized or even free school lunches, and the Obama administration has prioritized making those meals healthier than they have been in recent years.

What’s on the menu? More fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Chef salads will replace fried patties. Low-fat milk will replace whole milk.

To promote the new guidelines, Michelle Obama was joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and celeb chef Rachael Ray for lunch with school kids at Parklawn Elementary in Alexandria, Va. The First Lady told reporters, “We have a right to expect the food (our kids) get at school is the same kind of food we want to serve at our own kitchen tables.”               

But any patron of Whole Foods market can attest that you don’t eat healthier for free. Taxpayers will cover the $3.2 billion price tag to feed their students better over the next five years. If the Obama administration is right, and poor eating habits among children really do contribute to $3 billion in annual medical costs, opening the public coffers to increase the quality of school meals seems like a no-brainer.

About the author

Joel Patterson is the Associate Producer of Marketplace Money.

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