Tuesday Morning - January 18, 2011


January 18, 2011

Table of Contents

New Guidelines for School MealsNew US House Education and Workforce Committee Members Named

Webinar for Stakeholders

Study Reveals Economic Cost of Overweight and Obesity

School Nutrition Foundation Launches Breakfast in the Classroom Initiative

Afterschool Meals Webinar

New Ranking Member on Senate Agriculture Committee

FRAC Releases School Breakfast Scorecard

HR 207: School Food Recovery Act

In Every Issue

SNA Legislative Action Center

Legislative Toolkit

New Guidelines for School Meals

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a proposed rule that would update the nutrition standards for meals served through the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program.  The proposed rule is based on the Institute of Medicine guidelines that were released in October 2009. 

The proposed rule will bring the current school nutrition meal pattern requirements into line with the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs).  The current nutrition standards and meal pattern requirements are based on the 1995 version of the DGAs.  Taking into account the latest nutrition science, the new meal pattern requirements will limit calories and sodium and require schools to offer more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Under the proposed maximum calorie levels, school lunches must not exceed 650 calories for students in grades K – 5, 700 for grades 6 -8, and 850 for grades 9 – 12.  Calorie maximums were also set for school breakfasts.  In grades K – 5, the breakfast should not exceed 500 calories, 550 calories for grades 6 – 8, and 600 calories for grades 9 – 12. 

To ensure student acceptance, the sodium content of school meals would be gradually reduced over the next 10 years.  High school lunches would eventually be required to have no more than 740 milligrams of sodium, while lunches for grades 6-8 could have no more than 704 milligrams and grades K-5 could have no more than 636 milligrams.  Sodium levels are also set for school breakfasts.  Grades 9-12 would eventually need to meet 495 milligrams, grades 6-8 would meet 473 milligrams and grades K-5 would meet 434 milligrams.

The proposed rules place strong emphasis on planning meals around foods, rather than a set of nutrients.  The changes include:

  • Fruit: At breakfast, 1 cup per day for all grades.  At lunch: 1 cup per day for grades 9-12.  No more than half the fruit schools provide should be in the form of juice.
  • Vegetables: Grades K-8 should offer 3/4 cup per day, while grades 9-12 should offer 1 cup per day.  School should offer starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, less frequently and offer at least 1 / 2 cup each of leafy green vegetables, orange vegetables and legumes per week.
  • Grains: More than half of the grains and breads offered to students should be whole grain-rich (containing 50 percent or more whole grains).
  • Milk: Students should receive 1 cup of 1 percent white milk or nonfat white or flavored milk at breakfast and at lunch each day.
  • Meat or Meat Alternative: At breakfast: For children in grades K-8, 1 ounce per day.  For grades 9-12, 2 ounces on most days. At lunch: Students should be offered 2 ounces on most days for all grades, but schools would have flexibility to students in higher grades.

The proposed rule also requires school nutrition programs to follow a food-based menu planning approach.  No alternative menu planning approaches will be allowed.  Additionally, school nutrition programs would be required to plan meals based on specific age / grade groups.

USDA is also inviting public comment on how to incorporate three additional areas addressed in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines into the proposed meal pattern requirements.  The soon-to-be released 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends lower saturated fat consumption (less than 7% of total calories), lower sodium consumption (less than 1500 mg per day) and inclusion of a new red/orange vegetable subgroup.  Since the 2010 Dietary Guidelines were not available to the IOM for consideration, USDA has decided to issue the proposed rule and seek public comments on ways to incorporate those recommendations without including them in the regulatory text. 

As these regulations are only a proposed rule, they will not go into effect immediately.  The general public will have 90 days to submit comments to the USDA.  USDA will then evaluate the comments and make changes as needed.  The final rule will likely be released in January 2012, making the new meal pattern requirements the official guideline for the 2012-2013 school year. SNA is developing tools and resources to help members understand the proposed standards.  SNA will also be collecting member thoughts to include in comments for USDA. Please keep checking for further updates. 

Click on the link below to view the complete proposed regulation.  For a comparison between the current and proposed regulations, go to pages 6-7 of the notice. Proposed School Meal Pattern Requirements

Webinar for Stakeholders 

USDA has published a proposed rule to update nutrition standards for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs.  The public is invited to submit comments on the proposed rule until April 13, 2011.  USDA will host a webinar for stakeholders to discuss the proposed rule on Wednesday, January 19 from 3:30 – 4:30 PM, Eastern Time. To register please visit:

Study Reveals Economic Cost of Overweight and Obesity

The cost of overweight and obesity in the US exceeds $270 billion per year, according to a new study released by the Society of Actuaries (SOA). Much research has been done on the health effects of obesity, such as the increased incidence of type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, but little data has been collected on the nation-wide economic implications. 

Overweight and obesity cause an increased need for medical care and create a loss of economic productivity resulting from excess mortality and disability. Dividing up the $270 billion economic strain, overweight costs $72 billion and obesity costs $198 billion in 2009. To draw these astounding conclusions, the study reviewed nearly 500 research articles on obesity and its relation to mortality and morbidity by researchers and actuaries Don Behan and Sam Cox. The majority of articles reviewed were published from January 1980 to June 2009. According to SOA, the multi-billion dollar breakdown of overweight and obesity are as follows: 

  • Total cost of excess medical care = $127 billion
  • Economic loss of productivity caused by excess mortality = $49 billion
  • Economic loss of productivity caused by disability for active workers = $43 billion
  • Economic loss of productivity caused by overweight or obesity for totally disabled workers = $72 billion

"There is substantial evidence that overweight and obesity are becoming world-wide epidemics, and are having negative impacts on health and mortality," said actuary Don Behan, FSA, FCA, MAAA, an independent consulting actuary. "As actuaries, we are working with the insurance industry to help incentivize consumers through their health plan design to focus on health and wellness, which will hopefully help curb the weight and health problems we face today."

Overweight is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 25-29.9% and obesity is 30% and above. 

To read more about the study, follow this link:

School Nutrition Foundation Launches Breakfast in the Classroom Initiative

The School Nutrition Foundation has launched a new campaign to help fight childhood hunger in America. With $3.15 million of funding from the WalMart Foundation, the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom- a collective made up of the School Nutrition Foundation, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation, and National Education Association Health Information Network- are providing a new alternative to the traditional school breakfast program called Breakfast in the Classroom. 

The five public school districts chosen to participate in Breakfast in the Classroom are Dallas Independent School District (Texas), Little Rock School District (Arkansas), Memphis City Schools (Tennessee), Orange County Public Schools (Florida - including Orlando) and Prince George’s County Public Schools (Maryland).  

By expanding free breakfast to all students and moving it from the cafeteria to the classroom, Breakfast in the Classroom will substantially improve participation in federal School Breakfast Programs. Funds from the Walmart Foundation will be re-granted by the Partners to schools for start-up and related costs.  

While most U.S. schools participate in the School Breakfast Program, less than half of the low-income children who are eligible for a free or reduced-price breakfast are eating it, according to Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom. Bus schedules, tardiness and reluctance to be labeled “low income” are among the reasons that many students skip cafeteria-based school breakfast.

Breakfast in the Classroom is part of the Walmart Foundation’s $2 billion commitment to help fight hunger in America through 2015 that was announced last May. For more information visit:  


Afterschool Meals Webinar 

On Wednesday, January 19th, the Afterschool Alliance, the Food Research and Action Center, the National Recreation and Park Association, and the YMCA of the USA will host the webinar “What You Need to Know About Afterschool Meals” from 1 PM to 2 PM Eastern Time. The webinar speakers will explain the new afterschool meal program expansion and discuss how implementation will proceed.  To register, please visit:

New Ranking Member on Senate Agriculture Committee 

Sen. Pat Roberts (R- KS) became the new ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee when the 112th Congress convened this month.  Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R - GA), former ranking member, opted to take the ranking slot on the Senate Intelligence Committee, allowing Sen. Roberts to step in as the new ranking member.  Sen. Roberts served as House Agriculture Committee Chairman from 1995-1997, and his expertise will be critical as Congress moves to rewrite federal farm programs over the next two years. Rep. Frank Lucas (R - OK) is now chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

FRAC Releases School Breakfast Scorecard 

Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) has released their annual School Breakfast Scorecard which found that only 47.2 percent of low-income children who received school lunch also participated in the breakfast program. The report calls for new strategies to reach low-income children who are not receiving healthy school breakfasts. Some innovative ideas are to bring breakfast into the classroom so all students eat together or offer “grab and go” brown bag breakfasts in school hallways. 

Jim Weill, FRAC president stated “… the recession created more childhood hunger and fueled growth in the school meal programs. While officials and advocates at the school, state and federal level took important steps to boost enrollment, we still see that far too few children are starting the day with a healthy morning meal”. 

Funding for the school meal programs would also increase with participation. If schools serve 60 children breakfast for every 100 who also eat lunch, FRAC estimates that an additional 2.5 million low-income children would be added to the breakfast program, and states would receive $611 million more in child nutrition funding.  

To view the whole report, please visit:



HR 207: School Food Recovery Act 

On January 6, Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) introduced HR 207, the School Food Recovery Act, a bill that would clarify schools and local educational agencies participating in the school lunch program under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act are authorized to donate excess food to local food banks or 501(c) 3 charitable organizations. Bill cosponsors are Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Rep. Don Young (R-AK). For more information on this bill visit:




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