SNA News Releases

USDA Has Released the School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study IV

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USDA Food and Nutrition Service has released the latest School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study.  The report provides a comparison of the nutritional quality of school meals between SY 2009−2010, SY 2004−2005, and SY 1998−1999.  As in prior studies, the nutrient content of the average meals offered and served in the Nation’s schools was compared with regulatory standards in effect at the time—the School Meal Initiative (SMI) nutrition standards—as well as selected recommendations included in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

A selection of key highlights are: 

  •  85% of schools offered lunches that met standards for key nutrients (protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron).
  •  82% of elementary schools, 95% of middle schools, and 90% of high schools had a la carte offerings available at lunch.
  • For both lunches offered and served, a larger share of HUSSC elementary schools met the SMI standards for calories, vitamin C, and iron, on average, than elementary schools nationwide.
  • Vending machines were widely available in high schools (85 %), somewhat less common in middle schools (67 %), and rare in elementary schools (13 %).
  • More than 80% of school districts had a ban or restriction related to sweetened beverages and more than 75% had a ban or restriction related to snack foods.

Click here for the full report as well as the report summary.


USDA Launches USDA Foods Mobile Site

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 Last week at the USDA State Agency 2012 Training Workshop hosted by SNA, the USDA announced the launch of its new USDA Foods Mobile site for use on smartphones and tablets. It is currently designed foremost for use by schools and School Nutrition Professionals, but the Department expects to broaden the site’s capabilities to other program components in the near future. The mobile site will allow for School Nutrition Professionals to rapidly and easily access key information such as the current meal pattern guidelines, talking points for parents and other interested parties, and which foods are currently available through the USDA Foods Program. Additionally, schools will be able to locate contact information for their State Agencies as well as information on qualifying for the program. The launch of the new mobile site should assist all School Nutrition Professionals by streamlining access to information for those constantly on their feet.  Please check out the new site located here.

USDA Eliminates Weekly Grain and Protein Maximums for 2012-13 School Year

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December 7, 2012 – During USDA’s annual State Agency Meeting, hosted by SNA, USDA officials announced the release of new guidance which eliminates the weekly maximums for grains and proteins under the new meal pattern for the remainder of the 2012-13 school year.  Calorie maximums for school meals will remain in place.  Click here to read the guidance, officially released today. USDA also announced that new guidance on breakfast requirements will be released soon.

SNA President Sandra Ford, SNS, who presented at the meeting, commented, “School nutrition professionals have faced significant menu planning, operating, financial challenges and more as a result of the new meal pattern requirements. USDA's new guidance acknowledges those challenges and gives school meal programs more flexibility.  By easing weekly maximums for grains and proteins but maintaining calorie limits, USDA protects the nutritional integrity of the new standards while giving school meal programs more time to design healthy menus that meet both the new standards and students’ tastes.”

USDA has not announced whether these new flexibilities for grain and protein requirements will continue into the 2013-14 school year, but officials indicated they will continue to assess the requirements over the coming months.

“SNA has been in close communication with USDA this school year, sharing the challenges and successes of SNA members throughout meal pattern implementation, including concerns about the grain and protein weekly maximums,” said Ford.  “SNA will continue to report back to USDA on how these new flexibilities ease the burden on school meal programs and will make additional recommendations as warranted.”



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