Congress aims for healthier school lunches

Associated Press / March 25, 2010

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WASHINGTON — Students will always grab pizza and dessert in the school lunch line, but those items may be healthier in coming school years if Democrats in Congress succeed in toughening rules governing the nation’s school lunches.

Legislation approved yesterday by the Senate Agriculture Committee would allow the Agriculture Department to create new standards for all foods in schools, including vending machine items, to give students healthier meal options.

The legislation would spend $4.5 billion more over 10 years for nutrition programs.

New standards are not expected to push popular foods off, just to make them healthier.

For example, pizza may be made with whole wheat crust and low-fat mozzarella, with desserts with fewer calories. Hamburgers could be made with leaner meat, and vending machines could have less candy and fewer high-calorie sodas.

The legislation would also expand the number of low-income children eligible for free or reduced cost meals, a step Democrats say would help President Obama reach his goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015.