ROANOKE, Va. -

Schools nationwide are now federally required to take a closer look at sodium, fat and sugar levels in cafeteria food.

For this coming school year, schools must be within a weekly sodium limit. School breakfast and lunches with grains have to be whole grain. They're also required to provide fruit or a vegetable alternative every day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service.

Chuck Lionberger with Roanoke County Schools says the system is pushing for a healthier eating environment. For example, all vending machines you'll find in the schools are sugar free.

Lionberger says the price of county school lunches will increase this year to $2.35, up 10 cents from last year. He says this is a federal mandate to keep the free/reduced lunch program going and to keep up with other regulations.

Henry County Public School officials want all children to have access to healthy food, regardless of family income. Marci Lexa, director of school nutrition, says breakfast is free for all students.

More than 66 percent of Henry County students are on the free/reduced lunch program. Lexa attributes that to the weak economy and not enough jobs coming to the area to help support families.

Lexa says families can apply for the free/reduced meal program based on income. Within 10 days, they will receive a letter and find out whether their children qualify for either free or reduced-priced meals.

Should students qualify, they go through the lunch line, enter a personal PIN number (something all students have), and they continue on to enjoy their meal. The free/reduced meal program is private, and no one has to know who benefits, who doesn't.

Lexa adds that students not on the free/reduced program can do their part to help others in need, by using the share table. Students can take their breakfast and leave whatever they don't want on the share table. Any student who didn't get enough to eat the night before or needs a little extra can pick up whatever they want from the share table.