Feb 10, 2023USDA unveils new school meal rules
During a live roundtable, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced major changes to the department’s school breakfast and lunch programs. According to USDA, the proposed rulemaking would create new added sugars standards for the programs, gradually reduce school meal sodium limits, and change the milk and whole grain standards.
Of particular note to the U.S. potato industry, the proposed rulemaking would continue to allow schools to substitute vegetables for fruits at breakfast, but changes the vegetable variety requirement.
“Under this proposal, schools that substitute vegetables for fruits at breakfast more than one day per school week would be required to offer a variety of vegetable subgroups. In other words, schools that substitute vegetables more than one day per school week would be required to offer vegetables from at least two subgroups,” writes USDA.
National Potato Council (NPC) is reviewing the proposed rule and will provide additional comments in the coming days.
“Our priority is to ensure that school kids continue to have access to nutrient-rich foods like potatoes. Providing schools with clear and cost-effective regulations is essential in meeting that goal,” said RJ Andrus, NPC vice president of legislative affairs.
Following the announcement, House Education and Workforce Chair Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairman John Boozman (R-Ark.) released a joint statement: “We will review this proposal and talk with the stakeholders who make this program run to understand what works and what does not. Claiming to be science-based doesn’t mean USDA can put unworkable standards in place that make it harder for local school personnel to feed kids. Claiming to have solicited feedback does not mean USDA can ignore what works for schools and families to ensure kids will eat the meals. Claiming to be flexible does not mean USDA can add requirements that drive up costs for schools and families.”
– National Potato Council