The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 directed USDA to update the National School Lunch Program's meal pattern and nutrition standards based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The new meal pattern went into effect at the beginning of the 2012-13 School Year, and increases the availability of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in the school menu.
New dietary specifications set specific calorie limits to ensure age-appropriate meals for grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Other meal enhancements include gradual reductions in the sodium content of the meals (sodium targets must be reached by School Year 2014-15, School Year 2017-18 and School Year 2022-23).
While school lunches must meet Federal meal requirements, decisions about what specific foods to serve and how they are prepared are made by local school food authorities.