USDA sets new nutrition standards to cut salt, sugar in school lunches

Cereal, pizza, and chocolate milk found in school cafeterias are among the items that will soon contain less salt and sugar. 

Breakfast and lunch menus are getting a makeover after the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released new nutritional guidelines for schools - further limiting the amount of sodium and added sugar found in school meals. 

Naim Walcott is the lunch manager for Westhampton Beach Schools. He says changes are already in the works as nutrition is a priority in the district.  

"We use only reduce sodium cold cuts," Walcott said. "We have salad bars at all of our school districts. We do roasted chicken every day." 

According to the USDA, schools will not be required to make any changes to their menus this coming fall but changes have to be phased in by 2027.

"Cereals, yogurt are now going to have a much lower sugar intake on them," said Yohana Arevalo who is the School Lunch Program Coordinator with the Uniondale School District. 

The Uniondale School District is also on board with the changes. Once implemented, added sugar can’t exceed 10% of the total calories per week for school meals and meals must have 15% less sodium than what’s currently allowed. 

"If these are the only two meals that they're having, we want to make sure that they're healthy meals and healthy choices," said Dr. Mary Martinez-Lagnado who is the Interim Asst.  Superintendent for Business with the Uniondale School District. 

One in five children and adolescents are affected by childhood obesity according to the Centers for Disease Control.