USDA Announces Proposed Updates to School Nutrition Standards
US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced proposed updates to the school nutrition standards. These changes are based on the latest nutrition science, extensive feedback from school meal partners, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which is required by law. The goal of these updates is to give kids the right balance of nutrients for healthy and appealing meals and to ensure schools have the best chance for long-term success.
The proposed updates focus on reducing sodium and added sugars, as well as increasing whole grains, in order to better support the health and well-being of kids. USDA is proposing a gradual reduction in added sugars and sodium levels and an increase in whole grains over time. The agency is also investing $100 million in the Healthy Meals Incentives initiative, which includes farm-to-school grants and grants to buy equipment.
The proposed rule would also strengthen the Buy American requirements encouraging schools to use more locally grown food and seeks input on how to include more culturally appropriate foods in meals served to American Indian and Alaskan Native students. Additionally, recognition will be given to school districts that have significantly improved nutritional quality.
The proposed rule encourages schools to use fat-free or low-fat milk, while limiting flavored milk for high school students. The rule would also gradually reduce sodium levels to align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend Americans aged 14 and older limit sodium to about 2,300 milligrams a day.
USDA is taking a thoughtful approach to implementation, seeking input from school nutrition professionals, public health experts, industry, and parents to ensure the best chance for success. The agency recognizes that reducing sodium and added sugars, and increasing whole grains will take time and teamwork, but believes these changes will have big impacts on the health of millions of children.
0. “Proposed changes to school lunches aim to reduce sugar and sodium, but flavored milk stays” WXOW.com, 4 Feb. 2023, https://www.wxow.com/news/health/proposed-changes-to-school-lunches-aim-to-reduce-sugar-and-sodium-but-flavored-milk-stays/article_7a4694d9-0720-5547-9202-8091c9ec507d.html
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