USDA Acknowledges School Meal Challenges in New Rule

 

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Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner  

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USDA Acknowledges School Meal Challenges in New Rule  

 2022-02-04

ARLINGTON, VA – The non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) praised the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for recognizing tremendous challenges facing school meal programs in its release of transitional nutrition standards through School Year (SY) 2023/24. SNA is urging Congress to provide additional support by authorizing child nutrition waiver extensions through SY 2022/23 to address immediate supply chain issues, higher costs and the need to maintain pandemic safety measures. 

“School nutrition professionals are frantic just trying to get enough food on the tray for our students amid relentless supply chain disruptions and labor shortages. We greatly appreciate USDA addressing regulatory requirements and look forward to further collaboration with the Department to assess the viability of nutrition standards moving forward,” said School Nutrition Association President Beth Wallace, MBA, SNS. “With school nutrition professionals already planning menus and placing orders for the fall, we also urgently require Congress’ approval of waiver extensions to ensure all students continue to benefit from healthy school meals.” 

Persistent supply chain problems have forced food companies and distributors to streamline offerings and reduce the geographic areas they serve, leaving many meal programs without access to foods that meet highly specialized school nutrition standards. SNA’s November 2021 Supply Chain Survey found more than 96% of respondents cited challenges with suppliers not carrying sufficient menu items needed to meet nutrition standards, such as whole-grain, low-sodium and low-fat options. Consolidation in the school nutrition industry signals the lasting impact of these disruptions on the K-12 market and the need for regulatory relief moving forward.  

Research shows children receive their healthiest meals at school,” said Wallace. “Ensuring school meal programs are sustainable and additional nutrition requirements are achievable is critical to the health and success of America’s students.”  

SNA’s 2022 Position Paper, released in January, urged Congress to extend pandemic-related child nutrition waivers and ease rules on sodium, whole grains and milk to address menu planning challenges while ensuring students continue to receive healthy school meals at no charge. 

About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing 50,000 school nutrition professionals across the country. Founded in 1946, SNA and its members are dedicated to making healthy school meals and nutrition education available to all students.  For more information on school meals, visit 
www.SchoolNutrition.org/SchoolMeals

 

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