CFPA Statement on Proposed Rule to Roll Back School Meal Nutrition Standards
Despite overwhelming evidence that new school meal nutrition standards are working, the Trump Administration is proposing to further roll back the positive changes first put into place under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The Act increased the amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains available to children through school meals and also included calorie maximums and sodium limits to phase in over time. Key components of school meal nutrition standards are now in jeopardy due to the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed rule, published this week.
“The Trump Administration’s proposal would jeopardize student's access to healthy and well-balanced school meals,” said Melissa Cannon, Senior Advocate at California Food Policy Advocates. “More than 3.5 million school children rely on the health and academic benefits of free and reduced-price school meals in California.”
The proposed rule would weaken nutrition standards and create a loophole in school nutrition guidelines, paving the way for children to consume foods that are higher in calories, saturated fat, and sodium in place of healthy and balanced school meals that include healthier food items. The new rule comes on the heels of other Trump Administration policies to weaken nutrition standards, including a rule finalized in December 2018 that weakens whole grain, milk, and sodium standards. During the public comment process for that rule, CFPA joined thousands of individuals and organizations across the county to oppose the changes and to advocate that school meals are consistent with the evidence-based Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
“To empower schools to serve the best possible food to the most students experiencing need, the Trump Administration should be investing in school meals, not rolling back the nutrition standards that we know are working,” said George Manalo-LeClair, Executive Director at California Food Policy Advocates. “The Trump Administration and Governor Newsom are taking two very different approaches to addressing the impact of school meals. While the Trump Administration is trying to dismantle key components of nutrition standards, Governor Newsom is proposing to invest an additional $60 million in state funds to drive positive change in access to healthy to school meals.”
Comments on the new proposed rule are due by March 23rd, 2020. CFPA plans to submit public comments and will be working with state and national partners to support others in commenting on the proposed rule. Please stay tuned for more updates about how you can help protect the health and well-being of California students in the face of ongoing attacks from the federal administration. Stay up to date by signing up for our Action Alerts and following us at @CAFoodPolicy.