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healthy hunger free kids act of 2010.

USDA Seeks Public Feedback on Policies with School Meals Charges

Ensuring access to nutritious food for America’s children is a top USDA priority. Our National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) play vital roles to ensure healthy foods are available to our nation’s schoolchildren.  I have dedicated my career to these programs, and strongly believe in the power of their positive influence on public health.

Evidence shows that children who regularly eat balanced meals at school perform better in the classroom and are less likely to be overweight.  Their ability to learn in the classroom, grow up healthy, and reach their fullest potential depends on what we do right now to secure their future.

Creating a Healthier Next Generation and Supporting a Healthier School Day

Thanks to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, students across America are being served meals with more fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy.  Parents can send their kids to school knowing that the healthy habits they teach at home are being reinforced at school, with breakfast and lunch menus that provide more of the foods we should eat, and less of the foods that we should avoid.

Parents, teachers, school nutrition professionals, communities, and policy makers are working hard to make sure that school environments support a healthier next generation.

Don't Play Politics with our Children's Health

Earlier this morning, The Hill published an op-ed written by Secretary Vilsack and former Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, who served from 2001 to 2005. In the op-ed, Vilsack and Veneman call on Members of Congress to stand strong for America’s children and resist attempts to undo the progress made since the passage of the bipartisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA). Schools across the country are now serving healthier meals to kids based on recommendations from doctors and nutritionists at the Institute of Medicine.

USDA Relies on Feedback to Help Schools, Children Adapt to New Meal Standards

As many schools wind down for the year, USDA is gearing up for exciting new improvements designed to make the 2014-2015 school year even healthier for our nation’s future leaders.  It’s a commitment rooted in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.  In that legislation, USDA is directed to update the school meals to reflect the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The new school meal requirements are intended to ensure children get the nutrition they need for academic performance and overall health.  That’s a mission USDA takes seriously. Feeding kids, and feeding them well, can be a challenge.  I understand that as a former school nutrition director, mother, and now grandmother.   Plus, we know that change, in general, can be difficult. That is why we are working closely with schools to make sure the transition to the updated standards runs as smoothly as possible.  We are listening to what school nutritional professionals, teachers, parents and students are telling us.  These partners are the heart and soul of the school community and we have provided flexibilities based on their important feedback.

Good News about Early Childhood Obesity Rates

USDA believes in giving children a foundation for life-long health through access to healthy food and quality nutrition education.  So, that’s why we are encouraged by a couple of recent studies that indicate that the rates of obesity among young children are declining.  One study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that rates of obesity among young children ages 2-5 years have declined in the last decade, while another found that obesity is declining in low-income preschoolers in 19 states.  These results suggest that we are making progress in our efforts to improve the health of our next generation!  These findings were noted by Dr. Bill Dietz, former Director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity during his presentation at the 3rd meeting of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on March 14, 2014.

Efforts to turn the tide of obesity, both within the Federal government and in communities across the country, are having an impact in the preschool population.  The USDA’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services programs are an important part of these efforts.  Through the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, USDA is making critical changes to the foods available to children – even the picky eaters.

USDA Supports Schools in Implementing Updated Nutrition Standards

Each and every school day, over 30 million children participate in USDA’s school meals programs; many of these children consume two or more of their daily meals at school.  There’s no denying that school food plays a critical role in children’s diets, and USDA takes this responsibility very seriously.  We are committed to doing our part to ensure a healthier next generation!

Given public concern about our children’s current and future health, USDA has issued updated school meal standards stemming from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. These science-based standards call for increasing fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and whole grains, while at the same time limiting less healthy fats, sugar, sodium and excess calories.  Schools across the country are stepping up to the plate.  In fact, about 90% of schools across the country are already meeting the updated standards!  That’s not to say that their work is done.  Some schools have found that they lack the necessary equipment or tools to prepare healthy meals for all students.

USDA Proposes Professional Standards in National School Lunch, Breakfast Programs; Announces New Progress in Implementing Meal Standards

Today, USDA proposed the establishment of minimum national professional standards and training requirements for school nutrition professionals who manage and operate the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

The standards, another key provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA), aim to institute education and certification standards for school nutrition professionals. These new standards will ensure that school nutrition personnel have the training and tools they need to plan, prepare and purchase healthy products to create nutritious, safe and enjoyable school meals.

As a former school nutrition director I can tell you that school nutrition professionals across the country are pleased with the new meal patterns established by the HHFKA, which requires schools to prepare healthier meals for 32 million children each day. Schools are at the forefront of national efforts to improve nutrition and reduce obesity in our Nation’s children.