Letter From Our CEO
March 2020

The proposed standards are still in the public comment period. For the next two weeks, the USDA will continue to collect comments before approving, amending or declining the rollbacks.

It’s more important than ever to invest in Public Health. Current national school nutrition standards resulted in 41% more nutritious food than the proposed new “flexibilities”.

Why change them?

In January, the USDA proposed new rules for the national school lunch nutrition standards. These “flexibilities” would permanently allow processed potato products to replace whole fruits in breakfast (cue #AHashBrownIsNotAFruit) and vegetable-based pasta to replace whole fresh veggies in lunch. 

We need to do right by our children and keep the standards high so they can have long health-spans and be resilient against everything the world throws at them. We need to be doing ALL that we can to keep our children healthy and safe. They need nourishing food at school so they can stay healthy, grow and learn! 

The proposed standards are still in the public comment period. For the next two weeks, the USDA will continue to collect comments before approving, amending or declining the rollbacks. 

You can speak out and help ensure the food in schools stays nutritious and is held to higher standards with our students’ health in mind. Our children are our future and their health is in our hands.

We’re sharing some comments as examples that we individually submitted below. It takes only 2 minutes to submit a comment and your voice needs to be heard more than ever. 

I want to acknowledge these are unsettling times for all communities. We’re staying focused on doing the important work of our organization while continuing to monitor our evolving public health situation.  We’re sending wishes of ongoing health to you and your communities.

With Gratitude, 

Nora

What can I do? 

  • Submit your comments here. See below examples for inspiration. Before you hit submit, screenshot them and post on social media with #doright #healthykids #eatreal #higherstandards #AHashBrownIsNotAFruit.
  • Share the photo and the video and tag @eatrealcertified with #doright #healthykids #eatreal #higherstandards  
  • Visit eatreal.org/doright

Example Comment One 
Raise the standards, don’t lower them. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 prompted improvement to the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program Standards. When changes were implemented in 2012-2013, it resulted in >40% more nutritious food for our kids, and food waste has not increased. Please do not roll this progress back. We need standards that put our kids’ health and performance first. If anything, raise the standards (e.g., encourage more whole, intact grains, local organic vegetables, less sugar, more minimally processed items, food waste policies, better recycling, etc.). At a minimum, please maintain existing portion requirements related to vegetable variety and keep the whole grain-rich/whole grain as a first ingredient requirement. 

I want to be able to trust the food at school is healthy for my daughter. Please raise the standards so we can raise a healthier next generation. Please protect the health of the 30 million students who rely on these standards to support their health and development. 

Example Two 
Federal child nutrition programs play an incredibly important role in supporting the health and educational needs of our nation’s children (a hungry child cannot learn!).  The regulations, as updated in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, provided an important step forward in prioritizing our children’s health by increasing whole grains, vegetable variety/availability, age-appropriate portion sizes, sodium limits, and limitations on flavored milk.  At a time where diet-related health issues such as Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity are increasing in children at alarming rates, we cannot afford to lower the bar for the food we serve in schools. USDA studies have demonstrated that food waste has not increased under HHFKA and that participation is higher in schools serving healthier lunches.  There is no practical need to provide “greater flexibility” in the nutritional requirements. I urge the USDA to maintain existing portion requirements related to vegetable variety, not to allow vegetable-flour-based pasta to count towards vegetable credit, and to not extend the entree exemption timeframe for competitive foods. Furthermore, the whole grain-rich/whole grain as a first ingredient requirement should not be removed from the definition of “Entrée” included in 7 CFR 210.11(a)(3)(i). The competitive food entrée exemption to all food items offered in SBP and NSLP reimbursable meals should not be made permanent.

Example Three 
The Healthy-Hunger Free Kids Act led to significant improvements in the quality of food in schools, and many of these proposed changes weaken those standards. If finalized, these proposed changes will ultimately be detrimental to the health of the 30 million children who rely on the National School Lunch Program for nutritious meals.

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