USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, Kevin Concannon, stopped by Lindbergh Elementary School in north Madison on Wednesday, meeting with students in the school's cafeteria.
Under Secretary Concannon spoke with some of them about the importance of eating the fresh vegetables they were offered during today's lunch period.
"To think that first-graders and second-graders are eating, chewing broccoli, getting exposed to it, seeing where food comes from and is grown outside. These are all promising efforts on the part of the school," said Concannon.
During his visit, Concannon highlighted what he called the federal government's first significant changes to school meal nutrition standards in more than 15 years.
Steve Youngbauer, the Food and Nutrition Director for the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), says Madison schools are already exceeding some of the new standards, most of which will be implemented in all U.S. public schools starting next school year.
One change in the Fall of 2012 will be MMSD offering one fruit and one vegetable in every lunch. Children will be asked to choose one of the options.
Under Secretary Concannon also toured Lindbergh Elementary's garden, where students are helping grow fresh produce like radishes and strawberries.
"When kids know where food comes from they're more likely to try different foods," said Concannon. "We believe and know from the schools who've been able to lead in this way, it can make a difference over time for not only the health of the child, but also their ability to learn."
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