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USDA Proposes Updates to School Nutrition Standards to Support Healthy Futures

The USDA is proposing updates to school nutrition standards in order to provide kids with the best chance for a healthy future.[0] These updates are based on the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, feedback from school meal partners, and the National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.[0] The proposed updates include limiting added sugars, reducing sodium limits, emphasizing whole grain products, and encouraging the use of local and domestic foods.

The changes would limit added sugars in certain high-sugar products like prepackaged muffins, yogurt, and cereal. The guidelines would ultimately cap the amount of extra sugars allowed in the weekly menu. To limit sodium, they would gradually lower the weekly sodium limit over several school years and reduce sodium caps for breakfast with 10% year-over-year reductions beginning in 2025-26 through 2027-28.[1]

For flavored milk, the proposal allows for some fat-free and low-fat flavored milk to be served in school meals with “reasonable limits for added sugars.”[2] It is emphasized that school meal administrators tell the USDA that kids just won’t drink much no-fat skim milk or unflavored milk.[3] Vilsack stated, “That is not what they receive at home.”[3] We wish to promote milk consumption among children due to its immense nutritional value.[3]

The proposal also seeks to strengthen the Buy American requirements and support schools in using more locally grown foods.[1] To recognize school districts that have made significant improvements to the nutritional quality of their school meals, USDA is announcing a $17 million grant for Action for Healthy Kids to identify, celebrate, and showcase successful and creative strategies.[4]

The public comment period for the proposed rule is from Feb. 7 through April 10 and comments can be submitted at the Federal Register Notice.[0] USDA understands that thoughtful implementation of the updates will take time and teamwork, and will provide grants of up to $150,000 each to help small and rural school districts improve the nutrition of their school meals.[5]

0. “Proposed Updates to the School Nutrition Standards | Food and Nutrition Service” USDA Food and Nutrition Service, 3 Feb. 2023,

1. “USDA Clamps Down on Salt and Sugar in Proposed School Nutrition Guidelines” Education Week, 3 Feb. 2023,

2. “School lunch: USDA proposes new standards with sugar limits, less sodium” Axios, 1 Feb. 2023,

3. “Proposed changes to school lunches aim to reduce sugar and sodium, but flavored milk stays” CNN, 3 Feb. 2023,

4. “USDA Announces Steps To Improve Child Health through Nutritious School Meals”, 3 Feb. 2023,

5. “USDA proposes limits to added sugars and sodium in school meals” Yahoo! Voices, 4 Feb. 2023,

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