USDA Plans to Update School Nutrition Standards

USDA Plans to Update School Nutrition Standards

by M.C. Millman

The USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has proposed incremental, science-based updates to the school nutrition standards to "support and enhance the health of America's children through nutritious school meals."

This plan was announced on Friday, February 3, at the USDA Conversation on Healthy School Meals Roundtable and reflects the most recent 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines. The project proposes new added sugars standards for the school lunch and breakfast programs and the gradual reduction in sodium limits.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, "Many children aren't getting the nutrition they need, and diet-related diseases are on the rise. Research shows school meals are the healthiest meals in a day for most kids, proving that they are an important tool for giving kids access to the nutrition they need for a bright future."

FNS plans to focus on "a few key areas to give kids the right balance of nutrients for beneficial and appealing meals." These areas include whole grains, added sugars, milk, and sodium. 

The USDA's proposed implementation timeline is as follows:

Fall 2024

Whole Grains: Offer primarily whole grain products with the option for occasional non-whole, enriched grain products. 

Fall 2025

Added Sugars: Implement limits on high-sugar products like yogurts and cereal.

Milk: Allow some flavored milk with reasonable limits on added sugars Sodium: Reduce weekly limit for breakfast and lunch by 10%.

Fall 2027

Added Sugars: Limit to less than 10% of weekly calories for breakfast and lunch. 

Sodium: Reduce the weekly limit for breakfast and lunch by an additional 10%.

Fall 2029

Sodium: Reduce weekly limit by an additional 10% for lunch only

Comments on the proposed standards can be submitted online here from February 7 through April 10, 2023, or by mail to the School Meals Policy Division, Food and Nutrition Service, P.O. Box 9233, Reston, Virginia, 20195.

Photo Credit: Flickr

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