NEW YORK (AP / CBSNewYork) – Even when pizza is on the menu, school lunches are going to be healthier.

WCBS 880’s Steve Knight On The Story

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The first major nutritional overhaul of school meals in more than 15 years will mean that most of them will have less sodium, more whole grains and a wider selection of fruits and vegetables on the side.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the new guidelines during a visit with elementary school students Wednesday in Alexandria, Virginia.

“When we send our kids to school we have a right to expect that they won’t be eating the kinds of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we’re trying to keep from  them when they are at home,” said Obama.

They were joined by celebrity chef Rachael Ray.

Entire meals will have calorie caps for the first time, and most trans fats will be banned.

NYU nutrition professor Lisa Young says that’s the good part of the plan.

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“The bad is that pizza is still a vegetable and french fries are still a vegetable and they’re going to still offer chocolate milk,” she told WCBS 880 reporter Steve Knight.

Though pizza won’t disappear from lunch lines, it will be made with healthier ingredients.

Sodium will gradually decrease over a 10-year period. Milk will have to be low in fat, and flavored milks will have to be non-fat.

“I think overall these guidelines are a huge improvement to what we’ve had for at least 15 years,” Young said.

The rules aren’t as aggressive as the administration had hoped. Congress last year blocked the Agriculture Department from making some of the desired changes, including limiting French fries and pizza. Conservatives in Congress said the government shouldn’t tell children what to eat. School districts also objected to some of the requirements, saying they would cost too much.

The new guidelines will go into effect in July and be phased in over the next three years.

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