Earlier this week, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Brandon Lipps joined students in New Jersey, Virginia and the District of Columbia for wholesome school lunches in celebration of National School Lunch Week, as proclaimed by President Trump. Nearly 100,000 schools and institutions serve almost 30 million children through the National School Lunch Program. Secretary Perdue visited Discovery Elementary School in Arlington, Va., where he met with the school’s nutrition professionals, and served the children meals before joining them for lunch.
Last year, USDA took action to provide menu planning flexibilities that underscore USDA’s commitment to assisting schools in serving nutritious and appealing school meals. Responding to school nutrition professionals, USDA began making changes to school meal program rules to provide more options and flexibility on whole grains, sodium, and milk. An interim rule making these changes, the “Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements” rule is now in effect. USDA plans to release the final version of this rule later this year.
Acting Deputy Under Secretary Lipps kicked off National School Lunch Week on Monday with a visit to Eagle Academy Public Charter School (PCS) in Washington, D.C., where he ate with the students and toured their school garden.
National School Lunch Week occurs as USDA continues to celebrate Farm to School Month, intended to focus attention each October to celebrate partnerships between schools and farmers to introduce local produce into lunchrooms and classrooms. Eagle Academy PCS received a USDA Farm to School Grant in 2017, which helped bring locally-grown produce directly to the lunchroom. “Farm to school gives schools the flexibility to serve appealing, seasonally-available foods, raised by local farmers,” Lipps said. “It is also a great tool for educating students so they understand that these nutritious foods are grown by America’s farmers.”
On Wednesday, Lipps joined students for lunch at Manalapan-Englishtown Middle School in Manalapan, N.J. During the visit, Lipps also met with the school’s food service management company and nutrition officials from the state of New Jersey. “Children all across America deserve world-class food service – and schools are best positioned to deliver that service in their communities,” Lipps said. “USDA is committed to providing the local flexibilities they need to do what they do best – serve our kids nutritious meals they want to eat.”
USDA’s FNS works to reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets among the American people. The agency administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.
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The fact that you are lowering the standards for school lunches is absurd. Diabetes and obesity in children is skyrocketing and the schools are enablers. A teaching institution should be in the forefront of disease prevention, not swayed by lobbyists or those who don't understand the disease process.
Promoting whole grains, reducing sodium and sugar should be some of your goals along with educating the children and adults as to why certain foods are not beneficial. A nutrition class, led by plant based educators would be helpful in transitioning to a more "wellness" diet.
If you want to lower insurance rates and diseases then you need to learn how to prevent them and nutrition plays a key role.
There are many ways to implement change that will be acceptable to students, contact me, I'll share.
Sugar is the main offender and many schools have done well to replace flour & sugar desserts with fresh fruit. School lunches don't have enough protein for teens who are playing sports. Many students in my child's school have complained that they're hungry by the end of the school day, and these kids are fit. Boys are especially ravenous after games and parents can't pass the sandwiches out fast enough on the bus. Putting athletes on restrictive diets does nothing for those who are obese. Overweight students are eating poorly at home and not getting any exercise, this is usually evident by looking at the rest of the family.
I am confused. How can one claim nutrition guidelines for school meals are science-based if sodium increases and fiber decreases? For children who receive the majority of their nutrients from school meals, what is the near and long term impact of a diet higher in sodium and lower in fiber? How does this mesh with goals to support a nation of healthier people?
@Bridgett Chandler - thank you for your comment. USDA recently expanded meal pattern flexibilities that provide schools new options in the meals they serve under the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and other Federal Child Nutrition Programs. These are not mandates on schools. It gives back to schools the freedom to provide healthy meals in ways that appeal to children, while ensuring that child nutrition standards are both healthful and practical. Learn more: Balancing Nutrition and Taste: USDA Flexibilities Improve School Meal Service. USDA continues to provide training and technical assistance to schools on meal planning. Learn more: FNS Menu Planner.