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Proposed USDA Rule on School Meal Services Would Be Detrimental to Children’s Health

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recently proposed rule would roll back nutrition standards in our schools. The American Heart Association (AHA) released a statement strongly opposing the proposed rollbacks to national school lunch and breakfast programs. Find out what it had to say.


“We are extremely disappointed that the USDA is once again rolling back nutrition standards in our schools. First, the Trump Administration weakened requirements for sodium and whole grains, and now these proposed changes would allow schools to serve fewer fruits and grains, a smaller variety of vegetables, and less healthy entrees that aren’t part of a balanced meal. These changes are unnecessary and put children’s health at risk.”

The following aspects of the proposal are of greatest concern to AHA:

  • Reducing the amount of fruit required at breakfast for meals served outside the cafeteria. 
    • Schools could now provide as little as a half cup of fruit, a 50% reduction from current requirements.
  • Removing the requirement that schools serve grains at breakfast. 
    • Schools could now meet the standards by serving meat and no grain product.
  • Changing the vegetable subgroup requirements so that schools are no longer required to serve as many red and orange vegetables and legumes. 
    • Instead, schools could serve more potatoes and other starchy, often fried, vegetables.
  • Allowing entrees currently served as part of the weekly reimbursable meal program to be served on their own nearly every day of the week, eliminating the requirement that these items meet the strong a-la-carte standards for individual food items. 
    • While entrees and side dishes sold as part of the reimbursable meal are required to meet the school meal nutrition standards, these standards are averaged across the weekly menu. This gives schools the flexibility to occasionally serve a food that does not meet nutrition standards on its own but is balanced by healthier sides.
    • If these foods can be sold more frequently in a-la-carte, there is no requirement that children select a balanced meal. Children could, for example, purchase three slices of pizza in the a-la-carte line instead of purchasing a nutritionally balanced, reimbursable lunch that contains a slice of pizza, salad and fruit.

Read AHA’s full statement here.

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