Administration Releases New Nutrition Standards for School Meals

Statement by John R. Seffrin, CEO, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)

January 25, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC January 25, 2012 Following is a statement on the new nutrition standards for school meals from John R. Seffrin, PhD, CEO of ACS CAN:

The updated nutrition standards for school meals, which were released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today, will significantly improve the nutritional quality of the meals served to our nation 's children in school and have the potential to lead to a healthier population. The new standards, scheduled to be implemented beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, include several common sense steps that have the potential to make a big impact on the meals students are eating on a daily basis during the school week. These steps include: imposing calorie limits for all meals, increasing the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables offered at breakfast and lunch, replacing refined grains with whole grains using a phased in approach, allowing only fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk, and setting stricter limits for saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium. School districts that comply with the updated nutrition standards will receive an additional 6 cents per lunch, beginning in October, to facilitate purchasing and preparing healthier foods.

Evidence shows that approximately one-third of all cancer deaths are attributable to poor diet, physical inactivity, and overweight and obesity. Unfortunately, obesity among school-age children and adolescents has tripled over the past three decades. Because overweight and obese children are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, efforts to establish healthy body weight patterns must begin at a young age. To reverse these statistics, it is vitally important that these new nutritional standards become part of a comprehensive nationwide strategy focused on ensuring the health of today 's children.

ACS CAN is committed to promoting disease prevention, including good nutrition, for all Americans, in all sectors of society. ACS CAN has been engaged with USDA and Congress over the past year to advocate for the strongest possible nutrition standards for the breakfasts and lunches that students are served in schools across the country each day. While we are disappointed in the changes Congress made to weaken the standards in advance of their release, including counting tomato paste on pizza as a serving of vegetables and removing restrictions on the number of servings of french fries and starchy vegetables children could be served in school meals each week, ACS CAN still supports the overall goal of the new nutritional standards: improving the health and diet of America 's children.

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem.ξ ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit



Christina Saull or Steven Weiss

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Phone: (202) 585-3250 or (202) 661-5711

Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

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