(BLOOMBERG) — An overhaul of U.S. school meal standards that replaces breaded patties and canned fruit with fresh tomatoes and chef salad will cost $3.2 billion over five years, less than half of what was initially proposed by the Obama administration.
The first major change to school meals in 15 years released today departs from a 2011 draft by dropping a daily requirement for meat or a meat alternative with breakfast and requiring more fruit and food rich in whole grains. Local governments balked at the initial cost and companies including ConAgra Foods Inc., maker of Hunt’s tomato products, lobbied to block its limits on potatoes and tomato paste in pizza.
“As parents, we try to prepare decent meals, limit how much junk food our kids eat and ensure they have a reasonably balanced diet,” said first lady Michelle Obama in a statement. “When you’re putting in all that effort, the last thing we want is for our hard work to be undone each day in the school cafeteria.”