USDA updates nutrition standards for school meals

In an effort to make school meals healthier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Friday put forth significant reforms, with a focus on cutting salt and sugar, The Hill reports.

The plan, which will be open to public comment for 60 days starting on Tuesday, was created over a number of years with help from industry professionals, public health specialists, business leaders, and parents, according to a statement from the department.

The quantity of added sugar in school lunches and the length of time it would take for the industry to implement these changes to school meals were deemed by the USDA to be the two topics that stakeholders in the discussion were most concerned about.

“Many children aren’t getting the nutrition they need, and diet-related diseases are on the rise. Research shows school meals are the healthiest meals in a day for most kids, proving that they are an important tool for giving kids access to the nutrition they need for a bright future.”

However, not everyone approves of the suggested adjustments.

“Research shows students receive their healthiest meals at school, thanks to current nutrition standards,” said School Nutrition Association (SNA) President Lori Adkins. “As schools nationwide contend with persistent supply chain, labor, and financial challenges, school meal programs are struggling to successfully maintain current standards and need support, not additional, unrealistic requirements.”

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