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Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner
SNA Welcomes USDA’s Flexibility on Pasta as a Step in the Right Direction
National Harbor, MD (May 20, 2014) – Today, Agriculture Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon announced that school meal programs that “demonstrate significant challenges in serving whole grain rich pastas can now continue serving traditional enriched pasta products for up to two more years.”
The non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA), representing 55,000 professionals working in school cafeterias nationwide, welcomed the announcement. SNA President Leah Schmidt, SNS, said, “SNA is pleased USDA is beginning to recognize the significant challenges school nutrition professionals face as they work to prepare meals that both meet the new nutrition standards and appeal to students.”
USDA data shows that since the new standards took effect, more than one million fewer students choose school lunch each day. At the same time, SNA’s 2013 Back to School Trends Survey found that in the 2012-2013 school year 47% of school meal programs reported revenue declined while more than nine of ten reported food costs were up.
“School cafeteria staff are constantly encouraging students to try the healthy foods we prepare, including the wide variety of produce offered with every meal,” said Schmidt. “However, strict whole grain standards coupled with the requirement that schools force students to take a fruit or vegetable is turning students away from healthy school meals, increasing the amount of food students throw away and overwhelming school foodservice budgets.”
Schmidt continued, “Getting students to accept whole grain pasta is just one of many challenges school meal programs have faced under USDA regulations. SNA hopes USDA will continue to work with school nutrition professionals to ensure schools have the flexibility needed to make nutrition standards succeed.”
SNA supports strong federal nutrition standards for school meals, but is calling on Congress to provide school meal programs with additional flexibility under USDA regulations. Click here for details on SNA’s requests.
About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing 55,000 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. To find out more about today’s school meals, visit www.TrayTalk.org.