CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – There are nearly 30 million kids who eat meals at schools each day in the United States, and those kids will be seeing some changes in the next couple of years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced changes to nutrition standards for school meals, and one is a historic first.

The biggest change announced by the USDA is that for the first time there will be limits on added sugars in meals.

It was a hot topic last year as many were worried schools would have to get rid of chocolate milk.

“Chocolate milk, flavored milk is going to be OK as long as it meets a threshold of ten or fewer grams of added sugar,” said Cabell Schools Director of Food Services Travis Austin.

He says this is a part of a plan the USDA will accomplish during the next couple of years.

“They took a year to get feedback from cafeteria managers and food directors across the country,” Austin said.

Another goal is reducing sodium lunches by 15 percent and breakfasts by 10 percent by 2027, meaning you won’t see changes in lunches immediately.

“At the soonest these changes are going to be implemented in the 2025-26 school year,” Austin said. “That gives us about 18 months now to plan in advance and for the companies to adjust and fall into the standards of the USDA so they can put out a competitive product.”

Austin says the goal is not to make drastic changes to the point where the food doesn’t taste any good.

“There’s a balance in what we do, we try to put a healthy menu out there but we want to keep in mind that whatever we put out there, we want to make it enticing for them to take a tray,” Austin said.

The bottom line: the whole objective is to help kids be healthier.

“Overall this is a step in the right direction. Of course it’s smart to limit added sugars,” Austin said. “I don’t know anyone in my position or in the school who would think that was a bad thing.”

To take the nutrition a step further, Cabell schools actually get a lot of their foods locally grown in West Virginia.

A lot of their ground beef comes from a farm just north of Charleston, and a lot of their veggies come from a farm on the Cabell-Mason border.



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