Overly complex federal regulations divert resources from the mission of serving students. Streamlining regulations will minimize costs, support efficient operations and allow school nutrition professionals to dedicate more time and resources to directly benefit students, e.g., hosting taste tests, planning nutrition education initiatives and enhancing menus.
When COVID-19 prompted unexpected school closures in 2020, efforts to maintain consistent student access to healthy school meals and quickly mobilize grab-and-go services were hampered due to complex regulatory challenges. USDA needed to issue more than 100 regulatory waivers to ensure child nutrition programs could safely serve students throughout the pandemic. Excessive rules should not impede efforts to promptly and creatively respond to student needs.
SNA urges Congress to direct USDA to streamline regulatory burdens on child nutrition programs, beginning with implementation of the congressionally-mandated Child Nutrition Reporting Burden Analysis Study recommendations.
In addition, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is launching a comprehensive study of the USDA Foods in Schools Program. The study will examine ways to make this complex program more efficient, to streamline processes, eliminate redundancy and ensure the program is implemented in a clear and predictable way across all states. Given the critical importance of USDA Foods to schools, students and American farmers alike, SNA calls for implementation of GAO’s forthcoming recommendations to achieve program improvements.