USDA Takes a Step Backward on School Nutrition

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Earlier this month, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) made a senseless decision to undermine the health and well-being of school children by rolling back nutrition standards for school meals that have been successfully implemented for years. California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) is very disappointed by USDA’s final rule, which removes certain health and nutrition standards in the national school meal programs.

This rule change will undermine children’ health for years to come. The new rule allows schools to serve meals with more salt, fewer whole grains, and more sugar in flavored milk. With millions of children eating school meals every day, these changes can have significant impact. None of these changes are to the benefit of children and families.

Furthermore, these changes were completely unnecessary. Since the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act strengthened nutrition standards in 2012, schools worked hard to meet the challenge. Changing eating habits takes time and effort, but our schools showed it is possible.Since 2016, over 99% of schools in California and across the nation were successfully meeting or exceeding those standards. During the public comment period of the proposed rule, 96 percent of commenters opposed rolling back evidence-based nutrition standards. Healthier school meals are widely supported by parents, teachers, and pediatricians. CFPA joined thousands of people and organizations across the county to oppose these changes.

Given the successful implementation and widespread support, this is not a time for rolling back nutrition standards. By prioritizing politics and special interests over children’s well-being, USDA puts the health and learning of our nation’s children at risk. We should demand the best for our kids and help schools meet those demands. CFPA is committed to working with communities, partners, and policymakers to build upon the progress made and support schools in providing healthy, appealing school meals to our children.

Questions? Contact Jared Call at 213.482.8200 ext. 201 or Tracey Patterson at 510.433.1122 ext. 101