New Proposed Rule by USDA for Nutritional Standards in National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs

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The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 was signed by the president on December 13, 2010.  Central covered the details of the Act in a New Laws blog. One of the major changes of this Act was putting the USDA in charge of setting nutritional standards for all foods sold in schools. This includes food sold in vending machines and stores as well as a la carte menu items.

Expanding on new USDA responsibilities from this act, an information sheet provided by the White House said the bill “builds on USDA work to improve nutritional quality of commodity foods that schools receive from USDA and use in their breakfast and lunch programs.”

Fast forwarding one month after the act was signed, on Thursday Jan. 13, 2011 the USDA sent out this press release with a newly proposed rule.  The rule updates nutritional standards for meals served through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs—a part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

“Proposed changes will improve the health and wellbeing of children nationwide and help address childhood obesity crisis,” the release began.

New standards add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low fat milk to school menus and would require schools to limit saturated fats, sodium, calories and trans-fats.

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“The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act gives schools and communities new tools to meet the challenge of providing more nutritious food including increasing school reimbursements by 6 cents per meal, and increasing technical assistance,” the USDA said in the release.

They also explained school meals are a partnership between schools and the USDA, and the USDA will work with schools on improving meals to comply with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The USDA is looking for input and feedback on the new rule from the public. People are encouraged to visit the Regulations.gov website and submit comments. The page, titled “Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs,” can be found here.

So what specifically will change? The Eat Drink Better website put together this article, which bullets many of the important points and changes in the new rule. Also, the USDA put out this “Before/After Elementary School Lunch Menu” that compares old menus to new healthier ones.

Moving to after school, on January 18 the USDA sent out a second press release announcing the expansion of “at-risk after school meals in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).”

This program enables eligible children to receive assistance for after school meal reimbursement.

In a quote in the January 18 release from Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, he expressed the importance of reimbursing schools in all states for meals served through CACFP to children of low-income families.

The USDA compared old rules to the new ones in which previously,  all states were only eligible to be reimbursed for snacks and only 14 states were reimbursed for full meals.

Central will keep you posted in the upcoming months on news and changes surrounding the newly proposed rule.

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