WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Agriculture published a proposed rule to update the nutrition standards for meals served through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 13, 2010. Administration officials and nutrition advocates reiterated their commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of kids nationwide:

"Secretary Vilsack has been a champion for providing children with nutritional meals they need to learn and grow. Under his leadership, USDA is fighting childhood obesity by moving quickly to ensure that every school cafeteria offers healthy choices."

-U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

"The reality is that for many families struggling in this economy, the only chance their child has at eating a healthy meal comes in the school cafeteria. This means that our schools have an enormous responsibility to ensure the meals they serve our kids are nutritious, well-balanced and tasty enough that our kids actually want to eat them."

- Representative George Miller (D., Calif.)

"United Fresh Produce Association applauds USDA's new proposed rule to align the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines and Institute of Medicine's recommendations. Fruits and vegetables are really the stars of the proposed rule. We are pleased that the proposed rule will double the amount of fruit served at breakfast, double the amount of fruits and vegetables served at lunch and increase variety. Children like fresh fruits and vegetables and will eat more when they are more available in school meals. Increasing children's consumption of fruits and vegetables will improve their health and reduce their risk of childhood obesity."

-Lorelei DiSogra, EdD, RD, United Fresh Produce Association

"Recognizing the time pressures faced by USDA, we commend the agency for moving forward in making significant updates to the school meal standards that will improve the quality of meals that our children are served. Surrounding kids with healthy foods where they learn is an essential step to ensuring they are well nourished."

-Bill Shore, Founder and Executive Director, Share Our Strength

"FRAC congratulates USDA on its quick action to release the proposed school meal nutrition standard rule. Revising these nutrition standards is one important step to remedy nutritional shortfalls in our nation's children's diets and help to address the obesity crisis. It will lead to improvements in nutrition of low-income children across the country. Offering school meals consistent with the current nutrition science will provide much-needed fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lower-fat dairy foods to low-income school children throughout America. This is a key step in the comprehensive overhaul that is long overdue, and we applaud the Administration for moving quickly on this."

-James Weill, President, Food Research and Action Center

"School nutrition programs are constantly working to provide a greater variety of fresh produce, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and healthier entrees in school cafeterias. By raising the bar for school meals nationwide, these proposed standards will promote healthier lifestyles for America's schoolchildren. SNA and its members look forward to working with USDA to find ways to help all schools stretch limited food service dollars to meet each new standard and to encourage students to make more nutritious choices."

-Nancy Rice, M.Ed., RD, LD, SNS, President, School Nutrition Association

"The new nutrition standards for school meals represent an enormous improvement over the status quo. Capping calories, limiting French fries, and reducing the salt will all help America's school children avoid unnecessary weight gain and diet-related diseases. And requiring school lunches to contain more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will teach kids healthy eating habits that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives. The recently passed child nutrition reauthorization law will provide schools with more model menus and recipes, advice, and funding to implement these rules once they're finalized and adopted."

-Margo G. Wootan, Nutrition Policy Director, Center for Science in the Public Interest