Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner,

ARLINGTON, VA – Citingresearch showing today’s school meals are the healthiest meals Americans eat, the non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) expressed appreciation to USDA for reflecting feedback from school nutrition professionals in its final rule establishing long-term school nutrition standards. Recognizing the financial, labor and procurement hurdles frontline staff encounter in their efforts to improve the nutritional profile of school meals, SNA also urged Congress and USDA to provide additional support to ensure schools can successfully implement the new regulations. 

School meals currently meet limits on calories, fat and sodium and offer students whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat milk, fruits and a variety of vegetables, including fresh, locally-grown choices. Thenew rules, gradually phased in beginning in School Year 2025-26, include limits on added sugar and further sodium reductions, with sodium and milk mandates aligned with the more achievable limits outlined in the recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2024. 

“SNA appreciates that USDA is moving forward with more attainable, long-term nutrition goals that acknowledge the tremendous challenges schools face when working to adjust menus and gain student acceptance of healthier meals,” said SNA President Chris Derico, SNS. “Given research demonstrating that today’s school meals are the most nutritious meals students eat, it is critical that we financially sustain and operationally support school meal programs. Further sodium and sugar reductions will require investments in staffing, training and equipment to expand scratch cooking. USDA and Congress must ensure schools, grappling with rising costs, labor shortages and procurement issues, have the support and funding needed to successfully implement these new rules.” 

SNA’s 2024 Position Paper urged Congress to increase federal reimbursements for school meals and offer healthy school meals to all students for free, and cited survey data revealing the financial, labor and procurement barriers to implementing the proposed standards, as released in 2023. 

SNA will continue to analyze the details of the new rule and partner with USDA on efforts to support implementation through professional development programming, including webinars, education sessions, certificate and credentialing programs and networking. 

SNA’s March 2023 commentsin response to USDA’s proposed rule provided member feedback and detailed the Association’s support for certain provisions, including whole grain mandates, and proposed alternative solutions to advance the goals of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 


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 

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