USDA announces new standards on school meals, limits added sugar and salt

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – The federal government is taking major steps to promote the health of America’s children through school nutrition.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it will limit added sugars in meals for the first time in school cafeterias across the United States.

The final rule continues to allow flavored milk as long as they have less sugar, rather than only offering plain milk.

It also trims the amount of added salt allowed.

Mom of four, Vanessa Henry, says setting healthy eating habits at school is important because parents can only do so much at home.

“When you send your kids to school, you really hope that the school has the best interest for them and I feel like changing their diets and having it more healthy is going to be a great thing where parents can feel better,” says Henry.

The Department says nutrition standards for school meals will be gradually updated to include less sugar and flexibility with menu planning between fall 2025 and fall 2027.

Officials say schools will also have limits on the percentage of non-domestic grown and produced foods, enhancing the role of American farmers.

According to the USDA, K-12 schools serve nutritious meals to nearly 30 million children every school day in the United States.