A Big Step in the Right Direction: USDA Proposes Strong National School Food Standards
Today, USDA released long-awaited proposed nutrition standards that would provide healthier options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines, and snack bars. Paired with the improvements to school lunches that were rolled out last fall, the proposed standards mean that all foods and beverages sold in schools will meet much stronger nutrition guidelines.
While numerous states and school districts have taken action to improve school foods in recent years, the patchwork of policies has meant that too many children continue to be exposed to unhealthy school food environments. Almost half of all U.S. elementary school students have access to foods and beverages sold outside of the meal programs, and nearly all of those students had access to sugary foods.
The new guidelines are closely aligned with the 2007 Institute of Medicine recommendations from the report Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools: Leading the Way toward Healthier Youth. What’s more, the proposed standards serve as a regulatory floor, not a ceiling – meaning that they will provide a minimum set of guidelines for schools across the country. That means states and districts have flexibility to keep or set guidelines that go beyond federal standards.
Strategic Alliance will be reviewing the proposed standards closely, sharing key points of our analysis with our network, and encouraging everyone to submit comments on the proposed standards to the USDA.
To read USDA’s announcement, click here.