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USDA report highlights differences between school meals offered and served

Most schools met federal nutrition standards in their meal offerings to students in the 2009-2010 school year, but there were differences between what the schools offer and what the students selected, according to the latest version of the Agriculture Department's School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study.

The report, which provides the latest data on the nutritional quality of school meals and compares the current quality of meals with previous years, was dated November, but released with little fanfare.

"Overall, it shows progress in improving the nutritional quality of school lunches, but still lots of work to do," Margot Wootan, the nutrition policy director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said in an email. "The new school lunch standards, which went into effect this school year, are greatly needed, and schools need lots of support to meet them."

The report focused on the 2009-2010 school year, when nutrition standards established in 1995 were in effect. New meal standards under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act went into effect for the school year that started in September.