2012 Nutrition Standards Change Increased Fruits and Vegetables in School Meals

A 2012 change in school meal nutrition standards drove changes in the type of foods schools purchased. USDA’s Economic Research Service released data Monday that shows following the change in standards, schools obtained more fruits and vegetables through USDA Foods and especially through USDA’s Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. While there was no clear change in the types of foods chosen from 2006 to 2012, the percent of USDA Foods entitlement funds used for purchasing fruits and vegetables from DoD Fresh rose sharply from 6.7 percent of total USDA Foods in 2012 to 15 percent in 2017. Fruit obtained through AMS—mainly canned and frozen—rose from 9.4 percent of total USDA Foods spending in 2012 to 15.4 percent in 2017. Vegetables obtained from USDA’s AMS slightly rose from 2012 to 2017. As the spending on fruits and vegetables increased, the percentage spent on meat, poultry, and cheese dropped from nearly 74 percent in 2012 to 61 percent in 2017.

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