Washington, D.C. – January 25, 2012 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued today new school meal nutrition standards (pdf) that will improve the quality of school lunch and breakfast for children across the country.
The Food Research and Action Center issued this statement:
The new USDA nutrition standards for school meals are extraordinarily important to the health and learning of America’s school children. Nearly 32 million children eat lunch at school every day; more than 20 million of them are low-income children whose families are struggling to make ends meet. School meals are crucial to these children, and the new standards will go a long way to remedy nutritional shortfalls and help address the nation’s obesity problem.
The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) commends USDA for issuing these strong new nutrition rules. These science-based standards will lead to improvements in the nutrition and health of low-income children. Offering school meals consistent with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines will provide much-needed fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk options to low-income school children throughout America. School meals will now be consistent with the recommended calorie levels for children.
Based on the comment process, USDA has addressed in the final rule some of the practicality and cost issues, while striving for consistency with the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations. The increased funding for the school lunch reimbursement ($1.5 billion), combined with the savings from the other provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act should help achieve this goal, encourage schools’ compliance with the new rules, and encourage increased participation in school meals.
FRAC looks forward to working with the Administration to ensure that the gains of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and these regulations are implemented quickly and successfully, and that the school meal programs reach increasing numbers of eligible, hungry children. Reversing the childhood obesity trend must start now, and it begins with as many eligible children as possible eating the healthiest school meals possible.