School lunches just got a little healthier thanks to Schwan's Food Service's launch of more than 50 offerings that meet the proposed USDA School Meal Rules, as well as the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) guidelines.

"We're passionate about feeding children better," said Jim Clough, president of Schwan's Food Service, which has 70 percent market share in the pizza category. "Our goal is to provide highly nutritious, great tasting foods to kids at school so that they have the energy they need to succeed today and lead tomorrow."

The new nutrition-focused portfolio is the largest product expansion in the company's history.

"We can make a meaningful difference with these products," said Clough, who said that millions of slices of the company's Tony's and Big Daddy's pizzas are served every year in about 75 percent of the nation's more than 96,000 K-12 schools. "Pizza continues to be the choice of students for school lunch, and we've created great tasting products that provide the nutrition that kids need."

The new lineup include reformulations of several of the company's most popular school pizzas and flatbread sandwiches as well as several new breakfast selections. In addition, the company's Asian-inspired Minh brand offers several new nutrition-focused stir-fry selections. All of these products follow the newly proposed USDA School Meal Rules.

Schwan's is proud of its child nutrition initiative, said Clough. In 1999, the company introduced Tony's SmartPizza products for mainline school lunches, setting a nutritional benchmark in the category by using protein in the crust, enabling the reduction of total fat and sodium. In 2005, the company began developing whole grain pizza crusts, introducing them over the next four years, and in 2006, it launched the first of its 51 percent whole grain school pizzas. Along the way, internal company standards were established specific to sodium and fat levels.

Last year, Schwan's announced it would double the number of its 51-percent whole grain crust school pizzas by the fall of 2011, while reducing the sodium content of these same products by up to 10 percent. Working with a consortium of ingredient providers over the past several years, the company created its current recipe for its 51-percent whole grain crust.

Read more about healthy pizza options.

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