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USDA Issues Final Rule on School Meals

12/18/2018

In an attempt to allow local flexibility in implementing school nutrition standards for milk, whole grains and sodium, the USDA will publish a Final Rule in the Federal Register before the end of 2018.  In a December 6th press release, Secretary of Agriculture, Dr. Sonny Perdue stated, “USDA is committed to serving meals to kids that are both nutritious and satisfying.” He added,  “common-sense flexibilities provide excellent customer service to our local school nutrition professionals while given children a world-class service they deserve.” 

 

Options under the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and other child nutrition initiatives include:

 

  • Providing flavored, low-fat milk to children and to participants ages six and older in the Special Milk Program for Children and the Child and Adult Care Food Program;

 

  • Requirng half of the weekly grains in the school lunch and breakfast menu be whole grain-rich;

 

  • Providing more time to reduce sodium levels in school meals.

 

More stringent standards relating to milk, whole grains and sodium were introduced during the Obama administration as the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.  Regulations were met with opposition arising from problems of implementation. Dr. Perdue considers that “We all have the same goals in mind – the health and development of our young people.  USDA trusts our local operators to serve healthy meals that meet local preferences and to build futures with good nutrition.” The USDA statement concluded, “we will continue to listen to schools, and make common-sense changes as needed.”

 

Proponents of healthy lunches have expressed concern over excessive dietary sodium which is epidemiologically linked to hypertension which is a contributory factor for stroke and heart attacks later in life. 

 

Since inception in the 1940’s during the administration of President Harry Truman, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is responsible for feeding more than 30 million mostly low-income children.