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.
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.
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.
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.