The Maryland State Department of Education, School and Community Nutrition Programs Branch, is celebrating National School Lunch Week, October 15-19, 2012. The Maryland campaign, "My Plate My Choice," focuses on the healthy foods and variety of choices available to students participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
In 2010, the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act revised the meal requirements for the NSLP based on recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine. Starting this year, all schools participating in the NSLP will implement these nutrition standards. The new meals include:
- An increased variety of fruits and vegetables, including dark green vegetables, orange/red vegetables and legumes at least once a week
- More whole-grain rich items
- One third of the average daily calories student require by age
- A variety of low-fat dairy products
- Reduction of sodium levels over the next several years
Maryland school systems already meet or exceed many of the standards being implemented nationwide. Serving over 70 million lunches last year, Maryland schools served low-fat milk and whole grain products, and offered a wider variety of fresh fruits and vegetables than required by law.
School meal menus are developed locally by the school system's nutrition director. When planning menu choices, directors must consider federal regulations, nutritional quality, affordability, and student preferences. Families are encouraged to review the local school menus with their children to learn what School Meals have to offer this year.
The federally-funded NSLP provides affordable, well balanced, nutritious meals to all students every day. In addition, free or reduced-price meals are available for students based on household income. A household can apply for free or reduced-price meals at any time during the school year by filling out a meal benefit application.
For information about the school nutrition programs in Maryland, or to learn what's on your local school system menu, visit www.eatsmartmaryland.org.
In accordance with Federal Law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call toll free (866) 632-9992 (Voice). Individuals who are hearing impaired or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339; or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish).USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.